Signal detection in animal psychoacoustics: analysis and simulation of sensory and decision-related influences

Alves-Pinto, A., Sollini, J. and Sumner, C.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-2573-7418, 2012. Signal detection in animal psychoacoustics: analysis and simulation of sensory and decision-related influences. Neuroscience, 220, pp. 215-227. ISSN 0306-4522

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Signal detection theory (SDT) provides a framework for interpreting psychophysical experiments, separating the putative internal sensory representation and the decision process. SDT was used to analyse ferret behavioural responses in a (yes–no) tone-in-noise detection task. Instead of measuring the receiver-operating characteristic (ROC), we tested SDT by comparing responses collected using two common psychophysical data collection methods. These (Constant Stimuli, Limits) differ in the set of signal levels presented within and across behavioural sessions. The results support the use of SDT as a method of analysis: SDT sensory component was unchanged between the two methods, even though decisions depended on the stimuli presented within a behavioural session. Decision criterion varied trial-by-trial: a ‘yes’ response was more likely after a correct rejection trial than a hit trial. Simulation using an SDT model with several decision components reproduced the experimental observations accurately, leaving only ∼10% of the variance unaccounted for. The model also showed that trial-by-trial dependencies were unlikely to influence measured psychometric functions or thresholds. An additional model component suggested that inattention did not contribute substantially. Further analysis showed that ferrets were changing their decision criteria, almost optimally, to maximise the reward obtained in a session. The data suggest trial-by-trial reward-driven optimization of the decision process. Understanding the factors determining behavioural responses is important for correlating neural activity and behaviour. SDT provides a good account of animal psychoacoustics, and can be validated using standard psychophysical methods and computer simulations, without recourse to ROC measurements.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Neuroscience
Creators: Alves-Pinto, A., Sollini, J. and Sumner, C.J.
Publisher: Pergamon Press
Date: 18 September 2012
Volume: 220
ISSN: 0306-4522
S0306452212005994Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 01 Mar 2019 09:21
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2019 09:22

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