CUED Publications database

Risk sensitivity in a motor task with speed-accuracy trade-off.

Nagengast, AJ and Braun, DA and Wolpert, DM (2011) Risk sensitivity in a motor task with speed-accuracy trade-off. J Neurophysiol, 105. pp. 2668-2674.

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Abstract

When a racing driver steers a car around a sharp bend, there is a trade-off between speed and accuracy, in that high speed can lead to a skid whereas a low speed increases lap time, both of which can adversely affect the driver's payoff function. While speed-accuracy trade-offs have been studied extensively, their susceptibility to risk sensitivity is much less understood, since most theories of motor control are risk neutral with respect to payoff, i.e., they only consider mean payoffs and ignore payoff variability. Here we investigate how individual risk attitudes impact a motor task that involves such a speed-accuracy trade-off. We designed an experiment where a target had to be hit and the reward (given in points) increased as a function of both subjects' endpoint accuracy and endpoint velocity. As faster movements lead to poorer endpoint accuracy, the variance of the reward increased for higher velocities. We tested subjects on two reward conditions that had the same mean reward but differed in the variance of the reward. A risk-neutral account predicts that subjects should only maximize the mean reward and hence perform identically in the two conditions. In contrast, we found that some (risk-averse) subjects chose to move with lower velocities and other (risk-seeking) subjects with higher velocities in the condition with higher reward variance (risk). This behavior is suboptimal with regard to maximizing the mean number of points but is in accordance with a risk-sensitive account of movement selection. Our study suggests that individual risk sensitivity is an important factor in motor tasks with speed-accuracy trade-offs.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adult Female Humans Male Models, Biological Movement Photic Stimulation Psychomotor Performance Reaction Time Reward Risk-Taking Young Adult
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: Div F > Computational and Biological Learning
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 11:41
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2014 01:08
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00804.2010

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