Consistent patterns of distractor effects during decision making.
Chau BK., Law C-K., Lopez-Persem A., Klein-Flügge MC., Rushworth MF.
The value of a third potential option or distractor can alter the way in which decisions are made between two other options. Two hypotheses have received empirical support: that a high value distractor improves the accuracy with which decisions between two other options are made and that it impairs accuracy. Recently, however, it has been argued that neither observation is replicable. Inspired by neuroimaging data showing that high value distractors have different impacts on prefrontal and parietal regions, we designed a dual route decision-making model that mimics the neural signals of these regions. Here we show in the dual route model and empirical data that both enhancement and impairment effects are robust phenomena but predominate in different parts of the decision space defined by the options' and the distractor's values. However, beyond these constraints, both effects co-exist under similar conditions. Moreover, both effects are robust and observable in six experiments.