Processing of probabilistic information in weight perception and motor prediction

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2017 Feb;79(2):404-414. doi: 10.3758/s13414-016-1266-5.


We studied the effects of probabilistic cues, i.e., of information of limited certainty, in the context of an action task (GL: grip-lift) and of a perceptual task (WP: weight perception). Normal subjects (n = 22) saw four different probabilistic visual cues, each of which announced the likely weight of an object. In the GL task, the object was grasped and lifted with a pinch grip, and the peak force rates indicated that the grip and load forces were scaled predictively according to the probabilistic information. The WP task provided the expected heaviness related to each probabilistic cue; the participants gradually adjusted the object's weight until its heaviness matched the expected weight for a given cue. Subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: one started with the GL task and the other one with the WP task. The four different probabilistic cues influenced weight adjustments in the WP task and peak force rates in the GL task in a similar manner. The interpretation and utilization of the probabilistic information was critically influenced by the initial task. Participants who started with the WP task classified the four probabilistic cues into four distinct categories and applied these categories to the subsequent GL task. On the other side, participants who started with the GL task applied three distinct categories to the four cues and retained this classification in the following WP task. The initial strategy, once established, determined the way how the probabilistic information was interpreted and implemented.

Keywords: Anticipation; Motor system; Perception-action; Probabilities; Weight perception.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Motion*
  • Weight Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult