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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26485

Title: Visual Discrimination of Speed-accuracy Tradeoffs
Authors: Young, Scott Jason
Advisor: Chau, Tom
Pratt, Jay
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Keywords: human
motor control
choice behaviour
motor skills
human movement
motor imagery
goal-directed action
speed-accuracy trade-off
Fitts's law
Issue Date: 8-Mar-2011
Abstract: Although research has highlighted the importance of decisions when learning and performing motor actions, few studies have focused on individuals’ ability to choose between potential motor actions. To help bridge this gap, this thesis presents a series of studies that investigate the behaviour of able-bodied individuals when attempting to choose movements based on a speed-accuracy tradeoff. In the first study, a two-alternative forced-choice task was used to determine whether people are consistent with Fitts’s law when choosing the movement they perceive to require the least movement duration. Participants performed almost perfectly when clear visual cues were available—when one of the targets was closer, wider, or both. Contrary to Fitts’s law, however, participants showed a preference for closer targets when visual cues were not informative—when one of the targets was closer and narrower. This study demonstrates that motor decisions are not always optimal, especially when participants are naïve at the task. To determine the basis of individuals’ preference for closer targets, a pair of studies explored the relation between motor decisions, imagined movements, and visual perception. Participants showed a similar deviation from Fitts’s law when imagining movements—believing that movement duration increased with distance within the same index of difficulty. Participants did not behave similarly, however, in a perceptual version of the decision task. These results suggest that imagined movements and motor decisions are linked, but they are not always based on veridical representations of actual movement. To further probe the origin of individuals’ erroneous belief about movement duration, the final study of this thesis measured movement duration for movements made at speeds other than ‘as fast as possible’. Movements made at more natural movement speeds shared important similarities with decisions and imagined movements. This study suggests that the biases seen in naïve motor decisions might originate from participants considering movements for which they have more experience, such as target-directed movements made at a naturally-selected pace. Together, the findings presented in this thesis may help to identify the ways that motor decisions can deviate from optimal, suggesting how those decisions must change with practice to better accomplish a task.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26485
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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