Movement planning with probabilistic target information

J Neurophysiol. 2007 Nov;98(5):3034-46. doi: 10.1152/jn.00858.2007. Epub 2007 Sep 26.


We examined how subjects plan speeded reaching movements when the precise target of the movement is not known at movement onset. Before each reach, subjects were given only a probability distribution on possible target positions. Only after completing part of the movement did the actual target appear. In separate experiments we varied the location of the mode and the scale of the prior distribution for possible targets. In both cases we found that subjects made use of prior probability information when planning reaches. We also devised two tests (Composite Benefit and Row Dominance tests) to determine whether subjects' performance met necessary conditions for optimality (defined as maximizing expected gain). We could not reject the hypothesis of optimality in the experiment where we varied the mode of the prior, but departures from optimality were found in response to changes in the scale of prior distributions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Entropy
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Probability*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Volition