Humans rapidly estimate expected gain in movement planning

Julia Trommershäuser, Michael S. Landy, Laurence T. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied human movement planning in tasks in which subjects selected one of two goals that differed in expected gain. Each goal configuration consisted of a target circle and a partially overlapping penalty circle. Rapid hits into the target region led to a monetary bonus; accidental hits into the penalty region incurred a penalty. The outcomes assigned to target and penalty regions and the spatial arrangement of those regions were varied. Subjects preferred configurations with higher expected gain whether selection involved a rapid pointing movement or a choice by key press. Movements executed to select one of two goal configurations exhibited the same movement dynamics as pointing movements directed at a single configuration, and were executed with the same high efficiency. Our results suggest that humans choose near-optimal strategies when planning their movement, and can base their selection of strategy on a rapid judgment about the expected gain associated with possible movement goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-988
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Humans rapidly estimate expected gain in movement planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this