There are a number of theoretical and practical reasons to adopt the Bayesian framework over classical techniques. Recently, many psychological models have benefited from Bayesian analyses, and in particular, they have benefited from hierarchical analyses that provide information on multiple levels. However, the class of models that are capable of enjoying the benefits of Bayesian analyses has been limited to models that possess tractable likelihood functions. These models are typically referred to as "simulation-based" models, and as a result of their complicated or intractable likelihood functions, Bayesian analyses are not possible. However, a new technique, called approximate Bayesian computation (ABC), allows researchers to circumvent the evaluation of the likelihood by simulating the model. Our proposed research will extend the application of ABC to complex, stochastic models of computational neuroscience. For these models, we will be interested in fitting hierarchical and finite mixture versions of the models to examine individual differences and explore the role of experimental design optimization in model selection.

Public Health Relevance

The analysis of stochastic complex models of computational neuroscience will advance our understanding of the underlying mechanisms in the cognitive system guiding the behavior of interest. Introducing the general framework for Bayesian likelihood-free inference will have a broad impact on any field employing computational models. This will be of particular interest in computational neuroscience where models of human behavior are often very sophisticated and have complex likelihood functions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F02A-J (20))
Program Officer
Flicker, Paula F
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Stanford University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Turner, Brandon M; van Maanen, Leendert; Forstmann, Birte U (2015) Informing cognitive abstractions through neuroimaging: the neural drift diffusion model. Psychol Rev 122:312-36
Rodriguez, Christian A; Turner, Brandon M; McClure, Samuel M (2014) Intertemporal choice as discounted value accumulation. PLoS One 9:e90138
Turner, Brandon M; Sederberg, Per B (2014) A generalized, likelihood-free method for posterior estimation. Psychon Bull Rev 21:227-50
Turner, Brandon M; Van Zandt, Trisha (2014) Hierarchical approximate Bayesian computation. Psychometrika 79:185-209
Mittner, Matthias; Boekel, Wouter; Tucker, Adrienne M et al. (2014) When the brain takes a break: a model-based analysis of mind wandering. J Neurosci 34:16286-95
Turner, Brandon M; Dennis, Simon; Van Zandt, Trisha (2013) Likelihood-free Bayesian analysis of memory models. Psychol Rev 120:667-78
Turner, Brandon M; Sederberg, Per B; Brown, Scott D et al. (2013) A method for efficiently sampling from distributions with correlated dimensions. Psychol Methods 18:368-84
Turner, Brandon M; Forstmann, Birte U; Wagenmakers, Eric-Jan et al. (2013) A Bayesian framework for simultaneously modeling neural and behavioral data. Neuroimage 72:193-206