Extracting the dynamics of behavior in sensory decision-making experiments

The International Brain Laboratory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Decision-making strategies evolve during training and can continue to vary even in well-trained animals. However, studies of sensory decision-making tend to characterize behavior in terms of a fixed psychometric function that is fit only after training is complete. Here, we present PsyTrack, a flexible method for inferring the trajectory of sensory decision-making strategies from choice data. We apply PsyTrack to training data from mice, rats, and human subjects learning to perform auditory and visual decision-making tasks. We show that it successfully captures trial-to-trial fluctuations in the weighting of sensory stimuli, bias, and task-irrelevant covariates such as choice and stimulus history. This analysis reveals dramatic differences in learning across mice and rapid adaptation to changes in task statistics. PsyTrack scales easily to large datasets and offers a powerful tool for quantifying time-varying behavior in a wide variety of animals and tasks. Roy et al. present a method for inferring the time course of behavioral strategies in sensory decision-making tasks, which they use to analyze how behavior evolves during training in rats, mice, and humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-610.e6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 17 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • behavioral dynamics
  • learning
  • psychophysics
  • sensory decision making


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