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Efficient coding of subjective value


Polania, Rafael; Woodford, Michael; Ruff, Christian C (2019). Efficient coding of subjective value. Nature Neuroscience, 22(1):134-142.

Abstract

Preference-based decisions are essential for survival, for instance, when deciding what we should (not) eat. Despite their importance, preference-based decisions are surprisingly variable and can appear irrational in ways that have defied mechanistic explanations. Here we propose that subjective valuation results from an inference process that accounts for the structure of values in the environment and that maximizes information in value representations in line with demands imposed by limited coding resources. A model of this inference process explains the variability in both subjective value reports and preference-based choices, and predicts a new preference illusion that we validate with empirical data. Interestingly, the same model explains the level of confidence associated with these reports. Our results imply that preference-based decisions reflect information- maximizing transmission and statistically optimal decoding of subjective values by a limited-capacity system. These findings provide a unified account of how humans perceive and valuate the environment to optimally guide behavior.

Abstract

Preference-based decisions are essential for survival, for instance, when deciding what we should (not) eat. Despite their importance, preference-based decisions are surprisingly variable and can appear irrational in ways that have defied mechanistic explanations. Here we propose that subjective valuation results from an inference process that accounts for the structure of values in the environment and that maximizes information in value representations in line with demands imposed by limited coding resources. A model of this inference process explains the variability in both subjective value reports and preference-based choices, and predicts a new preference illusion that we validate with empirical data. Interestingly, the same model explains the level of confidence associated with these reports. Our results imply that preference-based decisions reflect information- maximizing transmission and statistically optimal decoding of subjective values by a limited-capacity system. These findings provide a unified account of how humans perceive and valuate the environment to optimally guide behavior.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:January 2019
Deposited On:19 Dec 2018 15:40
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 19:48
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1097-6256
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-018-0292-0
Official URL:https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-018-0292-0

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