A note on decomposition of sources of variability in perceptual decision-making

Inhan Kang, Roger Ratcliff, Chelsea Voskuilen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Information processing underlying human perceptual decision-making is inherently noisy and identifying sources of this noise is important to understand processing. Ratcliff, Voskuilen, and McKoon (2018) examined results from five experiments using a double-pass procedure in which stimuli were repeated typically a hundred trials later. Greater than chance agreement between repeated tests provided evidence for trial-to-trial variability from external sources of noise. They applied the diffusion model to estimate the quality of evidence driving the decision process (drift rate) and the variability (standard deviation) in drift rate across trials. This variability can be decomposed into random (internal) and systematic (external) components by comparing the double-pass accuracy and agreement with the model predictions. In this note, we provide an additional analysis of the double-pass experiments using the linear ballistic accumulator (LBA) model. The LBA model does not have within-trial variability and thus it captures all variabilities in processing with its across-trial variability parameters. The LBA analysis of the double-pass data provides model-based evidence of external variability in a decision process, which is consistent with Ratcliff et al.’s result. This demonstrates that across-trial variability is required to model perceptual decision-making. The LBA model provides measures of systematic and random variability as the diffusion model did. But due to the lack of within-trial variability, the LBA model estimated the random component as a larger proportion of across-trial total variability than did the diffusion model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102431
JournalJournal of Mathematical Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'A note on decomposition of sources of variability in perceptual decision-making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this