PLoS Biol. 2023 Nov 8;21(11):e3002373. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3002373. Online ahead of print.
Corrective feedback received on perceptual decisions is crucial for adjusting decision-making strategies to improve future choices. However, its complex interaction with other decision components, such as previous stimuli and choices, challenges a principled account of how it shapes subsequent decisions. One popular approach, based on animal behavior and extended to human perceptual decision-making, employs “reinforcement learning,” a principle proven successful in reward-based decision-making. The core idea behind this approach is that decision-makers, although engaged in a perceptual task, treat corrective feedback as rewards from which they learn choice values. Here, we explore an alternative idea, which is that humans consider corrective feedback on perceptual decisions as evidence of the actual state of the world rather than as rewards for their choices. By implementing these “feedback-as-reward” and “feedback-as-evidence” hypotheses on a shared learning platform, we show that the latter outperforms the former in explaining how corrective feedback adjusts the decision-making strategy along with past stimuli and choices. Our work suggests that humans learn about what has happened in their environment rather than the values of their own choices through corrective feedback during perceptual decision-making.