Decision making, movement planning and statistical decision theory

Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 Aug;12(8):291-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.04.010. Epub 2008 Jul 7.


We discuss behavioral studies directed at understanding how probability information is represented in motor and economic tasks. By formulating the behavioral tasks in the language of statistical decision theory, we can compare performance in equivalent tasks in different domains. Subjects in traditional economic decision-making tasks often misrepresent the probability of rare events and typically fail to maximize expected gain. By contrast, subjects in mathematically equivalent movement tasks often choose movement strategies that come close to maximizing expected gain. We discuss the implications of these different outcomes, noting the evident differences between the source of uncertainty and how information about uncertainty is acquired in motor and economic tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Decision Making*
  • Decision Theory*
  • Humans
  • Movement*
  • Risk Factors