, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 278-291

A diffusion model account of response time and accuracy in a brightness discrimination task: Fitting real data and failing to fit fake but plausible data


A brightness discrimination experiment was performed to examine how subjects decide whether a patch of pixels is “bright” or “dark,” and stimulus duration, brightness, and speed versus accuracy instructions were manipulated. The diffusion model (Ratcliff, 1978) was fit to the data, and it accounted for all the dependent variables: mean correct and error response times, the shapes of response time distributions for correct and error responses, and accuracy values. Speed-accuracy manipulations affected only boundary separation (response criteria settings) in the model. Drift rate (the rate of accumulation of evidence) in the diffusion model, which represents stimulus quality, increased as a function of stimulus duration and stimulus brightness but asymptoted as stimulus duration increased from 100 to 150 msec. To address the argument that the diffusion model can fit any pattern of data, simulated patterns of plausible data are presented that the model cannot fit.

The research in this article was supported by NIMH Grants K05 MH01891 and R37 MH44640.