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Stephen Sebastian, Wilson S. Geisler; Decision-variable correlation. Journal of Vision 2018;18(4):3. doi: 10.1167/18.4.3.
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An extension of the signal-detection theory framework is described and demonstrated for two-alternative identification tasks. The extended framework assumes that the subject and an arbitrary model (or two subjects, or the same subject on two occasions) are performing the same task with the same stimuli, and that on each trial they both compute values of a decision variable. Thus, their joint performance is described by six fundamental quantities: two levels of intrinsic discriminability (d′), two values of decision criterion, and two decision-variable correlations (DVCs), one for each of the two categories of stimuli. The framework should be widely applicable for testing models and characterizing individual differences in behavioral and neurophysiological studies of perception and cognition. We demonstrate the framework for the well-known task of detecting a Gaussian target in white noise. We find that (a) subjects' DVCs are approximately equal to the square root of their efficiency relative to ideal (in agreement with the prediction of a popular class of models), (b) between-subjects and within-subject (double-pass) DVCs increase with target contrast and are greater for target-present than target-absent trials (rejecting many models), (c) model parameters can be estimated by maximizing DVCs between the model and subject, (d) a model with a center–surround template and a specific (modest) level of position uncertainty predicts the trial-by-trial performance of subjects as well as (or better than) presenting the same stimulus again to the subjects (i.e., the double-pass DVCs), and (e) models of trial-by-trial performance should not include a representation of internal noise.
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