Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

This article reviews recently proposed theories postulating that, during simple choices, the brain performs statistically optimal decision making. These theories are ecologically motivated by evolutionary pressures to optimize the speed and accuracy of decisions and to maximize the rate of receiving rewards for correct choices. This article suggests that the models of decision making that are proposed on different levels of abstraction can be linked by virtue of the same optimal computation. Also reviewed here are recent observations that many aspects of the circuit that involves the cortex and basal ganglia are the same as those that are required to perform statistically optimal choice. This review illustrates how optimal-decision theories elucidate current data and provide experimental predictions that concern both neurobiology and behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends Cogn Sci

Publication Date





118 - 125


Basal Ganglia, Brain, Cerebral Cortex, Choice Behavior, Decision Making, Decision Support Techniques, Decision Theory, Humans, Nerve Net