Good Question

There has been substantial research and debate over the non-decision time parameter of evidence accumulation models. For LBA and diffusion models, there is often a discrepancy, where diffusion models show longer t0 times, with the LBA known to poorly estimate this parameter. Researchers are aware of this, however, the issue is largely ignored. Research into this parameter has used neural measurement data and muscular activity to provide useful estimates of t0 - i.e. the upper and lower limits of the parameter, to give a sense of how accurate this estimation is.

Recently, following a paper by Gunawan et al., (2020), a new method of bayesian hierarchical estimation was provided which showed more reliable parameter estimation. Following several modelling exercises using this method (known as Particle Metropolis within Gibbs - PMwG), it was found that t0 estimates were much improved from previous DE-MCMC sampling methods. “Much improved” being that estimates of t0 often centered around 0.01 seconds, whereas in PMwG, this was closer to 0.1 seconds - much more reasonable. So maybe it wasn’t so much a problem with the model, but rather a problem with the model estimation. In this blog post, i explore why this might be.

First, parameter recovery

First of all, I’ll make sure this holds in a parameter recovery exercise

Single t0

Actual.t0 0.2000000
Recovered 0.2254268

Large t0

Actual.t0 0.1000000
Recovered 0.1715356

Medium t0

Actual.t0 0.0300000
Recovered 0.0836326

Small t0



Multiple t0

Actual.t01 0.1500000
Actual.t02 0.2000000
Actual.t03 0.2500000
Recovered.t01 0.1227897
Recovered.t02 0.1991755
Recovered.t03 0.1987277

Large t0

Actual.t01 0.0500000
Actual.t02 0.1000000
Actual.t03 0.1500000
Recovered.t01 0.0733236
Recovered.t02 0.1138871
Recovered.t03 0.1758666

Medium t0

Actual.t01 0.0300000
Actual.t02 0.0600000
Actual.t03 0.0900000
Recovered.t01 0.0507706
Recovered.t02 0.0972373
Recovered.t03 0.1111606

Small t0

So, it looks like t0 recovers relatively well, but maybe not all the way (especially with larger values). This means that the LBA may still not perfectly estimate actual t0 values, but could also come from the variance in the individual subject synthetic parameters. One thing is for sure though, t0 is recovered at reasonable values compared to old DE-MCMC. So what could help this estimation method?

WHY?????? espeically for small values, it actually is bigger???? Check other params

log transform

One answer to this question is the log transformation of the parameter vector. This was proposed in Gunawan et al., (2020) so that values drawn from PMwG, which are on the real number line, could be used with the LBA

explain why this would change it.

To test this, I use the forstmann (2008) dataset reported in Gunawan et al., (2020) for a 3 threshold LBA. Using the PMwG sampler, i fit the model twice, using varying likelihood functions - one which takes the exponent of the proposed values and one which returns bad likelihoods for proposed values below 0.

The results are shown below.

Exponential 0.1207189
Log Scale 0.1004302

t0 estimated values on the exponential scale (normal way) and on the real number line (logged)

alpha values


covariance matrix

Exponential with Covariance 0.1207189
Without Covariance 0.1058109

t0 estimated with and without the covariance structure (using a high v-half)

alpha values

a comment on hierarchical shrinkage

Evidently, although the sampler does a good job in recovering most values of t0, we still see some hierarchical shrinkage, especially with larger t0 values. This is to be expected with hierarchical bayesian sampling models, however, should still be considered when reporting results.