The influence of movement-related costs when searching to act and acting to search

J Neurophysiol. 2023 Jan 1;129(1):115-130. doi: 10.1152/jn.00305.2022. Epub 2022 Dec 7.


Real-world search behavior often involves limb movements, either during search or after search. Here we investigated whether movement-related costs influence search behavior in two kinds of search tasks. In our visual search tasks, participants made saccades to find a target object among distractors and then moved a cursor, controlled by the handle of a robotic manipulandum, to the target. In our manual search tasks, participants moved the cursor to perform the search, placing it onto objects to reveal their identity as either a target or a distractor. In all tasks, there were multiple targets. Across experiments, we manipulated either the effort or time costs associated with movement such that these costs varied across the search space. We varied effort by applying different resistive forces to the handle, and we varied time costs by altering the speed of the cursor. Our analysis of cursor and eye movements during manual and visual search, respectively, showed that effort influenced manual search but did not influence visual search. In contrast, time costs influenced both visual and manual search. Our results demonstrate that, in addition to perceptual and cognitive factors, movement-related costs can also influence search behavior.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Numerous studies have investigated the perceptual and cognitive factors that influence decision making about where to look, or move, in search tasks. However, little is known about how search is influenced by movement-related costs associated with acting on an object once it has been visually located or acting during manual search. In this article, we show that movement time costs can bias visual and manual search and that movement effort costs bias manual search.

Keywords: decision making; manual search; movement costs; reaching; visual search.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements*
  • Humans
  • Movement*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Saccades
  • Visual Perception

Grants and funding