Decision and metacognitive computations carry evidence of unchosen options in multialternative decisions

Comay N, Solovey G, Barttfeld P. 2024. Preprints


Humans often face decisions between multiple alternatives. However, our grasp of the computations underlying this process is still limited. While some evidence suggests that only the chosen alternative is represented at the decision stage, other findings indicate that information from unchosen alternatives remains accessible for decision computations. Furthermore, the amount and kind of information that reaches metacognitive levels remains unexplored. We ran two pre-registered experiments using a second-guess paradigm to understand to what extent humans retain information from choices that were discarded in a first guess. We found consistent above chance performance and metacognition in a second-guess with a 4 alternative (Exp. 1) and 12 alternative task (Exp. 2). Computational modeling suggests both the decision and metacognitive systems maintain a noisy version of the information from all alternatives. Overall, our results suggest that, although suboptimally, humans take into account evidence from unchosen options in multialternative perceptual decision making and metacognition.