Cognitive models have been instrumental for generating insights into the brain processes underlying learning and decision making. In reinforcement learning it has recently been shown that not only choice proportions but also their latency distributions can be well captured when the choice function is replaced with a sequential sampling model such as the drift diffusion model. Hierarchical Bayesian parameter estimation further enhances the identifiability of distinct learning and choice parameters. One caveat is that these models can be time-consuming to build, sample from, and validate, especially when models include links between neural activations and model parameters. Here we describe a novel extension to the widely used hierarchical drift diffusion model (HDDM) toolbox, which facilitates flexible construction, estimation, and evaluation of the reinforcement learning drift diffusion model (RLDDM) using hierarchical Bayesian methods. We describe the types of experiments most applicable to the model and provide a tutorial to illustrate how to perform quantitative data analysis and model evaluation. Parameter recovery confirmed that the method can reliably estimate parameters with varying numbers of synthetic subjects and trials. We also show that the simultaneous estimation of learning and choice parameters can improve the sensitivity to detect brain–behavioral relationships, including the impact of learned values and fronto-basal ganglia activity patterns on dynamic decision parameters.
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