Are accuracy and reaction time affected via different processes?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A recent study by van Ede et al. (2012) shows that the accuracy and reaction time in humans of tactile perceptual decisions are affected by an attentional cue via distinct cognitive and neural processes. These results are controversial as they undermine the notion that accuracy and reaction time are influenced by the same latent process that underlie the decision process. Typically, accumulation-to-bound models (like the drift diffusion model) can explain variability in both accuracy and reaction time by a change of a single parameter. To elaborate the findings of van Ede et al., we fitted the drift diffusion model to their behavioral data. Results show that both changes in accuracy and reaction time can be partly explained by an increase in the accumulation of sensory evidence (drift rate). In addition, a change in non-decision time is necessary to account for reaction time changes as well. These results provide a subtle explanation of how the underlying dynamics of the decision process might give rise to differences in both the speed and accuracy of perceptual tactile decisions. Furthermore, our analyses highlight the importance of applying a model-based approach, as the observed changes in the model parameters might be ecologically more valid, since they have an intuitive relationship with the neuronal processes underlying perceptual decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e80222
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Decision Making/physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Models, Psychological
  • Reaction Time/physiology


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