Visual-reward driven changes of movement during action execution

Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 23;10(1):15527. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-72220-2.


Motor decision-making is often described as a sequential process, beginning with the assessment of available options and leading to the execution of a selected movement. While this view is likely to be accurate for decisions requiring significant deliberation, it would seem unfit for choices between movements in dynamic environments. In this study, we examined whether and how non-selected motor options may be considered post-movement onset. We hypothesized that a change in reward at any point in time implies a dynamic reassessment of options, even after an initial decision has been made. To test this, we performed a decision-making task in which human participants were instructed to execute a reaching movement from an origin to a rectangular target to attain a reward. Reward depended on arrival precision and on the specific distribution of reward presented along the target. On a third of trials, we changed the initial reward distribution post-movement onset. Our results indicated that participants frequently change their initially selected movements when a change is associated with an increase in reward. This process occurs quicker than overall, average reaction times. Finally, changes in movement are not only dependent on reward but also on the current state of the motor apparatus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reward*
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult