Learning and decision making are interactive processes, yet cognitive modelling of error-driven learning and decision making have largely evolved separately. Recently, evidence accumulation models (EAMs) of decision making and reinforcement learning (RL) models of error-driven learning have been combined into joint RL-EAMs that can in principle address these interactions. However, we show that the most commonly used combination, based on the diffusion decision model (DDM) for binary choice, consistently fails to capture crucial aspects of response times observed during reinforcement learning. We propose a new RL-EAM based on an advantage racing diffusion (ARD) framework for choices among two or more options that not only addresses this problem but captures stimulus difficulty, speed-accuracy trade-off, and stimulus-response-mapping reversal effects. The RL-ARD avoids fundamental limitations imposed by the DDM on addressing effects of absolute values of choices, as well as extensions beyond binary choice, and provides a computationally tractable basis for wider applications.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience