Modelling Movement as an Ongoing Decision

  • Author / Creator
    Wispinski, Nathan J
  • How do we make decisions, like which drink to reach and grab out of a fridge, or which path to take on a hike? Decades of research on decision making has led to powerful models of how options compete within our brains to be selected. However, these models, and the field of decision making in general, is split in two halves: the competition between options before a movement begins, and the competition between options after a movement has begun. Here, I propose a computational model of decision making that aims to bridge these two halves. Specifically, we model decision making as one process that determines when to initiate a movement, and another that acts to move toward an option proportional to its ongoing desirability. In Chapter 2, this model is compared to data collected while people were asked to reach and touch which of two snack foods they preferred. Despite its relative simplicity, we find the model can account for a diverse range of human behaviour during decision making, and is highly generalizable to a variety of experimental paradigms. In Chapter 3, I present neural data collected during a different decision making task - one where people were asked to decide which of two circles was brighter. These data do not align with many models focused on only one half of decision making, and instead provide support for the neural processes predicted by our model in Chapter 2. Together, these results support a new formal way of thinking about decision making - as a single, continuous competition between options, only seemingly split in half by the question about when to move.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-11:Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Singhal, Anthony (Psychology)
    • Chapman, Craig (Physical Education and Recreation)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Chapman, Craig (Physical Education and Recreation)
    • Singhal, Anthony (Psychology)
    • Mathewson, Kyle (Psychology)
    • Jones, Kelvin (Physical Education and Recreation)