Investigating the Nature of the Evidence Accumulation Process During Decision-Making

Kirkpatrick, Ryan, Psychology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Sederberg, Per, AS-Psychology (PSYC), University of Virginia

How the activations of individual neurons support behavior is a fundamental question in science.
My dissertation work provides a possible solution to this question within the context of
decision-making. Decisions vary in complexity from simple perceptual decisions to complex
preferential choice. This has led to a confluence of models to explain the behavior observed in
decision-making tasks. To reduce the number of plausible models, the first study in my
dissertation work falsifies two classes of decision-making theories with two simple perceptual
decision-making tasks while providing strong evidence for a third. My next study examines a
topic that has been contentious over the past two decades: the role of the superior colliculus in
the decision-making process. In my final chapter, I show how an extension of the most-well
studied theory of the decision-making process, sequential sampling theory, predicts the activity
of a population of neurons.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
decision-making, process models, evidence accumulation
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