ABSTRACT: A prominent source of polarised and entrenched beliefs is confirmation bias, where evidence against one's position is selectively disregarded. This effect is most starkly evident when opposing parties are highly confident in their decisions. Here we combine human magnetoencephalography (MEG) with behavioural and neural modelling to identify alterations in post-decisional processing that contribute to the phenomenon of confirmation bias. We show that holding high confidence in a decision leads to a striking modulation of post-decision neural processing, such that integration of confirmatory evidence is amplified while disconfirmatory evidence processing is abolished. We conclude that confidence shapes a selective neural gating for choice-consistent information, reducing the likelihood of changes of mind on the basis of new information. A central role for confidence in shaping the fidelity of evidence accumulation indicates that metacognitive interventions may help ameliorate this pervasive cognitive bias.
Project description:Human decisions are based on accumulating evidence over time for different options. Here we ask a simple question: How is the accumulation of evidence affected by the level of awareness of the information? We examined the influence of awareness on decision-making using combined behavioral methods and magneto-encephalography (MEG). Participants were required to make decisions by accumulating evidence over a series of visually presented arrow stimuli whose visibility was modulated by masking. Behavioral results showed that participants could accumulate evidence under both high and low visibility. However, a top-down strategic modulation of the flow of incoming evidence was only present for stimuli with high visibility: once enough evidence had been accrued, participants strategically reduced the impact of new incoming stimuli. Also, decision-making speed and confidence were strongly modulated by the strength of the evidence for high-visible but not low-visible evidence, even though direct priming effects were identical for both types of stimuli. Neural recordings revealed that, while initial perceptual processing was independent of visibility, there was stronger top-down amplification for stimuli with high visibility than low visibility. Furthermore, neural markers of evidence accumulation over occipito-parietal cortex showed a strategic bias only for highly visible sensory information, speeding up processing and reducing neural computations related to the decision process. Our results indicate that the level of awareness of information changes decision-making: while accumulation of evidence already exists under low visibility conditions, high visibility allows evidence to be accumulated up to a higher level, leading to important strategical top-down changes in decision-making. Our results therefore suggest a potential role of awareness in deploying flexible strategies for biasing information acquisition in line with one's expectations and goals.
Project description:Understanding how individuals utilize social information while making perceptual decisions and how it affects their decision confidence is crucial in a society. To date, very little has been known about perceptual decision-making in humans and the associated neural mediators under social influence. The present study provides empirical evidence of how individuals are manipulated by others' decisions while performing a face/car identification task. Subjects were significantly influenced by what they perceived as the decisions of other subjects, while the cues, in reality, were manipulated independently from the stimulus. Subjects, in general, tend to increase their decision confidence when their individual decision and the cues coincide, while their confidence decreases when cues conflict with their individual judgments, often leading to reversal of decision. Using a novel statistical model, it was possible to rank subjects based on their propensity to be influenced by cues. This was subsequently corroborated by an analysis of their neural data. Neural time series analysis revealed no significant difference in decision-making using social cues in the early stages, unlike neural expectation studies with predictive cues. Multivariate pattern analysis of neural data alludes to a potential role of the frontal cortex in the later stages of visual processing, which appeared to code the effect of cues on perceptual decision-making. Specifically, the medial frontal cortex seems to play a role in facilitating perceptual decision preceded by conflicting cues.
Project description:Decisions are usually accompanied by a feeling of being wrong or right - a subjective confidence estimate. But what information is this confidence estimate based on, and what is confidence used for? To answer these questions, research has largely focused on confidence regarding current or past decisions, for example identifying how characteristics of the stimulus affect confidence, how confidence can be used as an internally generated feedback signal, and how communicating confidence can affect group decisions. Here, we report two studies which implemented a novel metacognitive measure: predictions of confidence for future perceptual decisions. Using computational modeling of behaviour and EEG, we established that experience-based confidence predictions are one source of information that affects how confident we are in future decision-making, and that learned confidence-expectations affect neural preparation for future decisions. Results from both studies show that participants develop precise confidence predictions informed by past confidence experience. Notably, our results also show that confidence predictions affect performance confidence rated after a decision is made; this finding supports the proposal that confidence judgments are based on multiple sources of information, including expectations. We found strong support for this link in neural correlates of stimulus preparation and processing. EEG measures of preparatory neural activity (contingent negative variation; CNV) and evidence accumulation (centro-parietal positivity; CPP) show that predicted confidence affects neural preparation for stimulus processing, supporting the proposal that one purpose of confidence judgments may be to learn about performance for future encounters and prepare accordingly.
Project description:Decisions are often associated with a degree of certainty, or confidence--an estimate of the probability that the chosen option will be correct. Recent neurophysiological results suggest that the central processing of evidence leading to a perceptual decision also establishes a level of confidence. Here we provide a causal test of this hypothesis by electrically stimulating areas of the visual cortex involved in motion perception. Monkeys discriminated the direction of motion in a noisy display and were sometimes allowed to opt out of the direction choice if their confidence was low. Microstimulation did not reduce overall confidence in the decision but instead altered confidence in a manner that mimicked a change in visual motion, plus a small increase in sensory noise. The results suggest that the same sensory neural signals support choice, reaction time, and confidence in a decision and that artificial manipulation of these signals preserves the quantitative relationship between accumulated evidence and confidence.
Project description:Neural systems adapt to background levels of stimulation. Adaptive gain control has been extensively studied in sensory systems but overlooked in decision-theoretic models. Here, we describe evidence for adaptive gain control during the serial integration of decision-relevant information. Human observers judged the average information provided by a rapid stream of visual events (samples). The impact that each sample wielded over choices depended on its consistency with the previous sample, with more consistent or expected samples wielding the greatest influence over choice. This bias was also visible in the encoding of decision information in pupillometric signals and in cortical responses measured with functional neuroimaging. These data can be accounted for with a serial sampling model in which the gain of information processing adapts rapidly to reflect the average of the available evidence.
Project description:Visual metacognition-the introspection and evaluation of one's own visual perceptual processes-is measured through both decision confidence and "metacognitive efficiency." Metacognitive efficiency refers to an individual's ability to accurately judge incorrect and correct decisions through confidence ratings given their task performance. Previous imaging studies in humans and nonhuman primates reported widely distributed brain regions being involved in decision confidence and metacognition. However, the neural correlates of metacognition are remarkably inconsistent across studies concerning spatial outline. Therefore, this study investigates the neural correlates of visual metacognition by examining co-activation across regions that scale with visual decision confidence. We hypothesized that interacting processes of perceptual and metacognitive performance contribute to the arising decision confidence in distributed, but segregable co-activating brain regions. To test this hypothesis, we performed task-fMRI in healthy humans during a visual backward masking task with four-scale, post-decision confidence ratings. We measured blood oxygenation covariation patterns, which served as a physiological proxy for co-activation across brain regions. Decision confidence ratings and an individual's metacognitive efficiency served as behavioral measures for metacognition. We found three distinct co-activation clusters involved in decision confidence: the first included right-centered fronto-temporal-parietal regions, the second included left temporal and parietal regions, and the left basal forebrain (BF), and the third included cerebellar regions. The right fronto-temporal-parietal cluster including the supplementary eye field and the right basal forebrain showed stronger co-activation in subjects with higher metacognitive efficiency. Our results provide novel evidence for co-activation of widely distributed fronto-parieto-temporal regions involved in visual confidence. The supplementary eye field was the only region that activated for both decision confidence and metacognitive efficiency, suggesting the supplementary eye field plays a key role in visual metacognition. Our results link findings in electrophysiology studies and human fMRI studies and provide evidence that confidence estimates arise from the integration of multiple information processing pathways.
Project description:When people state their willingness to pay for something, the amount usually differs from the behavior in a real purchase situation. The discrepancy between a hypothetical answer and the real act is called hypothetical bias. We investigated neural processes of hypothetical bias regarding monetary donations to public goods using fMRI with the hypothesis that amygdala codes for real costs. Real decisions activated amygdala more than hypothetical decisions. This was observed for both accepted and rejected proposals. The more the subjects accepted real donation proposals the greater was the activity in rostral anterior cingulate cortex-a region known to control amygdala but also neural processing of the cost-benefit difference. The presentation of a charitable donation goal evoked an insula activity that predicted the later decision to donate. In conclusion, we have identified the neural mechanisms underlying real donation behavior, compatible with theories on hypothetical bias. Our findings imply that the emotional system has an important role in real decision making as it signals what kind of immediate cost and reward an outcome is associated with.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In health-related, Web-based information search, people should select information in line with expert (vs nonexpert) information, independent of their prior attitudes and consequent confirmation bias. OBJECTIVE:This study aimed to investigate confirmation bias in mental health-related information search, particularly (1) if high confidence worsens confirmation bias, (2) if social tags eliminate the influence of prior attitudes, and (3) if people successfully distinguish high and low source credibility. METHODS:In total, 520 participants of a representative sample of the German Web-based population were recruited via a panel company. Among them, 48.1% (250/520) participants completed the fully automated study. Participants provided prior attitudes about antidepressants and psychotherapy. We manipulated (1) confidence in prior attitudes when participants searched for blog posts about the treatment of depression, (2) tag popularity -either psychotherapy or antidepressant tags were more popular, and (3) source credibility with banners indicating high or low expertise of the tagging community. We measured tag and blog post selection, and treatmentefficacy ratings after navigation. RESULTS:Tag popularity predicted the proportion of selected antidepressant tags (beta=.44, SE 0.11; P<.001) and blog posts (beta=.46, SE 0.11; P<.001). When confidence was low (-1 SD), participants selected more blog posts consistent with prior attitudes (beta=-.26, SE 0.05; P<.001). Moreover, when confidence was low (-1 SD) and source credibility was high (+1 SD), the efficacy ratings of attitude-consistent treatments increased (beta=.34, SE 0.13; P=.01). CONCLUSIONS:We found correlational support for defense motivation account underlying confirmation bias in the mental health-related search context. That is, participants tended to select information that supported their prior attitudes, which is not in line with the current scientific evidence. Implications for presenting persuasive Web-based information are also discussed. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03899168; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03899168 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/77Nyot3Do).
Project description:In perceptual decision-making, ideal decision-makers should bias their choices toward alternatives associated with larger rewards, and the extent of the bias should decrease as stimulus sensitivity increases. When responses must be made at different times after stimulus onset, stimulus sensitivity grows with time from zero to a final asymptotic level. Are decision makers able to produce responses that are more biased if they are made soon after stimulus onset, but less biased if they are made after more evidence has been accumulated? If so, how close to optimal can they come in doing this, and how might their performance be achieved mechanistically? We report an experiment in which the payoff for each alternative is indicated before stimulus onset. Processing time is controlled by a "go" cue occurring at different times post stimulus onset, requiring a response within msec. Reward bias does start high when processing time is short and decreases as sensitivity increases, leveling off at a non-zero value. However, the degree of bias is sub-optimal for shorter processing times. We present a mechanistic account of participants' performance within the framework of the leaky competing accumulator model , in which accumulators for each alternative accumulate noisy information subject to leakage and mutual inhibition. The leveling off of accuracy is attributed to mutual inhibition between the accumulators, allowing the accumulator that gathers the most evidence early in a trial to suppress the alternative. Three ways reward might affect decision making in this framework are considered. One of the three, in which reward affects the starting point of the evidence accumulation process, is consistent with the qualitative pattern of the observed reward bias effect, while the other two are not. Incorporating this assumption into the leaky competing accumulator model, we are able to provide close quantitative fits to individual participant data.
Project description:Changing one's mind on the basis of new evidence is a hallmark of cognitive flexibility. To revise our confidence in a previous decision, we should use new evidence to update beliefs about choice accuracy. How this process unfolds in the human brain, however, remains unknown. Here we manipulated whether additional sensory evidence supports or negates a previous motion direction discrimination judgment while recording markers of neural activity in the human brain using fMRI. A signature of post-decision evidence (change in log-odds correct) was selectively observed in the activity of posterior medial frontal cortex. In contrast, distinct activity profiles in anterior prefrontal cortex mediated the impact of post-decision evidence on subjective confidence, independently of changes in decision value. Together our findings reveal candidate neural mediators of post-decisional changes of mind in the human brain and indicate possible targets for ameliorating deficits in cognitive flexibility.