Neural Signatures of Rational and Heuristic Choice Strategies: A Single Trial ERP Analysis

Szymon Wichary , Mikołaj Magnuski , Tomasz Oleksy , Aneta Brzezicka


In multi-attribute choice, people use heuristics to simplify decision problems. We studied the use of heuristic and rational strategies and their electrophysiological correlates. Since previous work linked the P3 ERP component to attention and decision making, we were interested whether the amplitude of this component is associated with decision strategy use. To this end, we recorded EEG when participants performed a two-alternative choice task, where they could acquire decision cues in a sequential manner and use them to make choices. We classified participants’ choices as consistent with a rational Weighted Additive rule (WADD) or a simple heuristic Take The Best (TTB). Participants differed in their preference for WADD and TTB. Using a permutation-based single trial approach, we analyzed EEG responses to consecutive decision cues and their relation to the individual strategy preference. The preference for WADD over TTB was associated with overall higher signal amplitudes to decision cues in the P3 time window. Moreover, the preference for WADD was associated with similar P3 amplitudes to consecutive cues, whereas the preference for TTB was associated with substantial decreases in P3 amplitudes to consecutive cues. We also found that the preference for TTB was associated with enhanced N1 component to cues that discriminated decision alternatives, suggesting very early attention allocation to such cues by TTB users. Our results suggest that preference for either WADD or TTB has an early neural signature reflecting differences in attentional weighting of decision cues. In light of recent findings and hypotheses regarding P3, we interpret these results as indicating the involvement of catecholamine arousal systems in shaping predecisional information processing and strategy selection.
Author Szymon Wichary (Filia we Wrocławiu / II Wydział Psychologii we Wrocławiu)
Szymon Wichary,,
- II Wydział Psychologii we Wrocławiu
, Mikołaj Magnuski (Wydział Psychologii)
Mikołaj Magnuski,,
- Wydział Psychologii
, Tomasz Oleksy
Tomasz Oleksy,,
, Aneta Brzezicka (Wydział Psychologii)
Aneta Brzezicka,,
- Wydział Psychologii
Journal seriesFrontiers in Human Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-5161, (A 35 pkt)
Issue year2017
Publication size in sheets0.65
Keywords in Englishdecision making, heuristics, strategy selection, P3, EEG/ERP
ASJC Classification2802 Behavioral Neuroscience; 2803 Biological Psychiatry; 2738 Psychiatry and Mental health; 2808 Neurology; 3206 Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Languageen angielski
14. wicharyEtal_2017_neural signatures_rat_heu_choice strategies_front hum neurosci.pdf 4.99 MB
Additional file
14a. Oświadczenie_publ_Wichary_18_08_2017.pdf 348.11 KB
Score (nominal)35
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2016 = 1.113; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 2.871 (2) - 2017=4.022 (5)
Citation count*10 (2021-02-27)
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