Isolating objective and subjective filling-in using the drift diffusion model

Ron Dekel, Dov Sagi, Ativ Zomet, Dennis M. Levi, Uri Polat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatial context is known to influence the behavioral sensitivity (d') and the decision criterion (c) when detecting low-contrast targets. Of interest here is the effect on the decision criterion. Polat and Sagi (2007) demonstrated that, for a Gabor target positioned between two similar co-aligned high-contrast flankers, the observers' reports of seeing the target (Hit and False Alarm) decreased with increasing target-flanker distance. This effect was more pronounced when the distance was randomized within testing blocks compared to when it was fixed. According to signal detection theory (SDT), the latter result suggests that the decision criterion is adjusted to a specific distance-dependent combination of signal (S) and noise (N) when the S and N statistics are fixed, but not when they vary across trials. However, SDT cannot differentiate between changes in the decision bias (the criterion shift) and changes introduced by variations in S and N (the signal and noise shift). To circumvent this limitation of SDT, we analyzed the reaction time (RT) data within the framework of the drift diffusion model (DDM). We performed an RT analysis of the target-flanker interactions using data from Polat and Sagi (2007) and Zomet et al. (2008; 2016). The analysis revealed a stronger dependence on flankers for faster RTs and a weaker dependence for slower RTs. The results can be explained by DDM, where an evidence accumulation process depends on the flankers via a change in the rate of the evidence (signal and noise shift) and on observers' prior knowledge via a change in the starting point (criterion shift), leading to RT-independent and RT-dependent effects, respectively. The RT-independent distance-dependent response bias is attributed to the observers' inability to learn multiple internal distributions required to accommodate the distance-dependent effects of the flankers on both the signal and noise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number14
StatePublished - 4 Dec 2023


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