Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Innovative analysis of speed and accuracy for daily decision making

Time is of the essence, and it is also an essential feature of many simple daily decisions. An EU initiative investigated the speed-versus-accuracy trade-off related to reward maximisation.
Innovative analysis of speed and accuracy for daily decision making
The value of a speedy response versus an accurate one is considered in terms of the likelihood of receiving potential rewards. Evolution has endowed humans with a relatively imprecise ability to time intervals. This imposes the need to account for both temporal accuracy and temporal uncertainty when making time-pressured decisions to maximise rewards.

With this in mind, the EU-funded OPTIMAL TIMING (Interval timing, decision making, and reward maximization) project focused on optimal temporal risk assessment and bridging the gap between interval timing and decision-making research.

Project partners developed four experiments aimed at testing optimisation of temporal and non-temporal decision making. They completed follow-up experiments based on outcomes of the original protocols. Researchers also carried out extensive diffusion modelling to understand the processing dynamics that cause interval timing and retrospective temporal decision making. They also developed neural models that apply similar procedures and decide on time intervals.

Findings suggest that humans are better than previously thought at making decisions in the face of temporal uncertainty. They also pointed to conditions under which people come close to optimising the speed versus accuracy trade-off for reward maximisation. However, additional experiments showed that optimal temporal risk assessment performance varies when faced with two or more decision options.

Results from another experiment that tested perceptual decision-making performance under time pressure revealed that humans were not able to estimate optimal decision strategies when given response deadlines. The team further extended these studies to include clinical populations, animal research, behavioural genetics and brain stimulation methods.

OPTIMAL TIMING bridged the gap between interval timing research and decision making for reward maximisation by incorporating the psychophysics behind interval timing. Research helped facilitate the understanding and diagnosis of clinical conditions as well as the neuropathology associated with timing and decision-making deficits.

Related information


Decision making, reward maximisation, interval timing, temporal risk, temporal decision making
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