From single decisions to sequential choice patterns: Extending the dynamics of value-based decision-making

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Every day, we make many value-based decisions where we weigh the value of options with other properties, e.g. their time of delivery. In the laboratory, such value-based decision-making is usually studied on a trial by trial basis and each decision is assumed to represent an isolated choice process. Real-life decisions however are usually embedded in a rich context of previous choices at different time scales. A fundamental question is therefore how the dynamics of value-based decision processes unfold on a time scale across several decisions. Indeed, findings from perceptual decision making suggest that sequential decisions patterns might also be present for vale-based decision making. Here, we use a neural-inspired attractor model as an instance of dynamic models from perceptual decision making, as such models incorporate inherent activation dynamics across decisions. We use the model to predict sequential patterns, namely oscillatory switching, perseveration and dependence of perseveration on the delay between decisions. Furthermore, we predict RT effects for specific sequences of trials. We validate the predictions in two new studies and a reanalysis of existing data from a novel decision game in which participants have to perform delay discounting decisions. Applying the validated reasoning to a well-established choice questionnaire, we illustrate and discuss that taking sequential choice patterns into account may be necessary to accurately analyse and model value-based decision processes, especially when considering differences between individuals.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0267249
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2022

External IDs

Scopus 85128655924
PubMed 35446901
Mendeley 58360818-0f19-32f3-a42f-0bbd40ee5dc1
WOS 000795468200070
ORCID /0000-0002-4408-6016/work/142234393
ORCID /0000-0003-0967-6747/work/149795377


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

DFG Classification of Subject Areas according to Review Boards

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Choice Behavior/physiology, Decision Making/physiology, Humans

Library keywords