Choices Change the Temporal Weighting of Decision Evidence
Decisions do not occur in isolation, but are embedded in sequences of other decisions, often pertaining to the same source of evidence. Here, we characterized the impact of intermittent choices on the accumulation of a protracted stream of decision-relevant evidence towards a final decision. Human participants performed two versions, based on perceptual or numerical evidence, of a decision task that required two successive judgments at different times during the evidence stream: an intermittent
... am: an intermittent response consisting of a binary choice, and a continuous estimation at the end of the evidence stream. In a control condition, subjects executed a choice-independent motor response instead of binary choice as the intermittent response. In both, perceptual and numerical tasks, the intermittent choice reduced the sensitivity of subsequent evidence, and flipped the relative temporal weighting of early and late evidence in the final estimation judgment. The individual extent of the choice-induced overall (non-selective) sensitivity reduction predicted the extent of the selective down-weighting of subsequent evidence inconsistent with the initial choice, a form of confirmation bias. In sum, active decisions about a protracted evidence stream profoundly alter the dynamics of evidence accumulation, consistent with an active, modulatory mechanism triggered by the choice.