The hunt for the perfect discounting function and a reckoning of time perception

Vijay MK Namboodiri, Marshall G. Hussain Shuler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Making decisions that factor the cost of time is fundamental to survival. Yet, while it is readily appreciated that our perception of time is intimately involved in this process, theories regarding intertemporal decision-making and theories regarding time perception are treated, largely, independently. Even within these respective domains, models providing good fits to data fail to provide insight as to why, from a normative sense, those fits should take their apparent form. Conversely, normative models that proffer a rationalization for why an agent should weigh options in a particular way, or to perceive time in a particular way, fail to account for the full body of well-established experimental evidence. Here we review select, yet key advances in our understanding, identifying conceptual breakthroughs in the fields of intertemporal decision-making and in time perception, as well as their limits and failings in the face of hard-won experimental observation. On this background of accrued knowledge, a new conception unifying the domains of decision-making and time perception is put forward (Training-Integrated Maximization of Reinforcement Rate, TIMERR) to provide a better fit to observations and a more parsimonious reckoning of why we make choices, and thereby perceive time, the way we do.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-141
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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