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Decision-Making During Ongoing Actions

dc.contributor.advisorGail, Alexander Prof. Dr.
dc.contributor.authorUlbrich, Philipp
dc.titleDecision-Making During Ongoing Actionsde
dc.contributor.refereeGail, Alexander Prof. Dr.
dc.description.abstractengContemporary theories of action-based decision-making suggest that making decisions between goods, and specifying the actions required to obtain these goods, are parallel and intertwined processes, which allows for highly adaptive behavior. Instead of first deciding between different options and then specifying only the single action needed to confirm this choice, humans and animals alike are able to prepare multiple actions in parallel prior to the choice, and even rapidly make and revise decisions online, i.e., during already ongoing actions. These abilities are especially important in situations in which decisions must be made quickly and/or situations in which the evidence which choice option is best may change over the course of the action. From a methodological standpoint, decisions during ongoing actions have also proven to be a viable tool to study a wide spectrum of otherwise covert decision processes, as they are now reflected in the movement trajectories produced during online choices. This thesis contains three human psychophysics studies that are concerned with both, methodological aspects of studying online decision-making (Chapters 2 and 3) and the question how online choices are shaped by prior information regarding action probability and action reward (Chapter 4). In Chapter 2, a novel method, the cone method, to infer decision times from movement trajectories during online choice is presented and validated. While previously established methods to infer decision times during online choice relied on trial-averaged, two-dimensional trajectories, the cone method can be applied to single two- and three-dimensional trajectories, therefore allowing for a wide range of applications. The study in Chapter 3 demonstrates how the ability to make informed online choices between spatially defined movement targets depends on proper specification of the experimental paradigm’s motor control demands (here: accuracy and movement time requirements). When the task-imposed motor control demands were too strict, participants prioritized successfully finishing the movement in time at the expense of choosing the best target, i.e., participants often guessed a target prior to movement initiation. These results underline the importance of appropriately defined motor control demands when studying decision processes using online choice paradigms. In Chapter 4’s study, online choices were used to investigate how simultaneously elicited prior expectations regarding the probability of multiple actions’ individual availability and their associated rewards are integrated into the process of deciding between these actions. Both, the movement trajectories and the final choices were affected to a larger degree by the action probability priors than the action reward priors. Despite this difference in magnitude, both priors exercised their effects on the movement at a similar time course. These findings argue for an increased behavioral relevance of action plannability over action preference in decisions during ongoing actions. In conclusion, this thesis provides novel analysis tools and experimental design guidelines for the study of online decision processes as well as insights to the magnitude and time course at which fundamental types of choice-related information shapes such online decision
dc.contributor.coRefereeHagmayer, York Prof. Dr.
dc.subject.engaction selectionde
dc.subject.engsensorimotor controlde
dc.affiliation.instituteBiologische Fakultät für Biologie und Psychologiede
dc.subject.gokfullPsychologie (PPN619868627)de

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