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Dr Brent Alsop

Tel 64 3 479 7615
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Behavioural Models of Choice and Signal Detection

Most environments confront humans and other animals with choices. These can range from a major corporation making financial decisions, to ducks foraging for food on a lake. My research examines the way the distribution of resources in an environment determines humans' and animals' choices.

Controlled environments are arranged in which animals “forage” for food by making different responses. Each response might produce, for example, different rates, amounts, or delays of food. We can measure how these factors influence various aspects of the animals' behaviour (such as its rate and distribution) and then derive quantitative models describing these processes.

Other research investigates how the consequences of choices influence judgements about ambiguous stimuli. These signal-detection experiments look at the effects of reward and response cost on the speed, accuracy, and bias of human and animal observers' judgements. Again, the goal is to derive quantitative descriptions of the relation between these factors.


Alsop, B. (1998). Receiver operating characteristics from non-human animals: Some implications and directions for research with humans. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5, 239-252.

Johnstone, V., & Alsop, B. (1999). Signal presentation ratios and reinforcer ratios in signal detection procedures. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 72, 1-20.

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