A multiple-choice task with changes of mind

Larissa Albantakis, Francesca M Branzi, Albert Costa, Gustavo Deco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of changes of mind and multiple choices has recently received increased attention in the study of perceptual decision-making. Previously, these extensions to standard two-alternative tasks have been studied separately. Here we explored how changes of mind depend on the number of choice-alternatives. To this end, we tested 14 human subjects on a 2- and 4-alternative direction-discrimination task. Changes of mind in the participants' movement trajectories could be observed for two and for four choice alternatives. With fewer alternatives, participants responded faster and more accurately. The frequency of changes of mind, however, did not significantly differ for the different numbers of choice alternatives. Nevertheless, mind-changing improved the participants' final performance, particularly for intermediate difficulty levels, in both experimental conditions. Moreover, the mean reaction times of individual participants were negatively correlated with their overall tendency to make changes of mind. We further reproduced these findings with a multi-alternative attractor model for decision-making, while a simple race model could not account for the experimental data. Our experiment, combined with the theoretical models allowed us to shed light on: (1) the differences in choice behavior between two and four alternatives, (2) the differences between the data of our human subjects and previous monkey data, (3) individual differences between participants, and (4) the inhibitory interaction between neural representations of choice alternatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e43131
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior
  • Decision Making
  • Discrimination (Psychology)
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Reaction Time
  • Young Adult
  • Clinical Trial
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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