Very Slow Search and Reach: Failure to Maximize Expected Gain in an Eye-Hand Coordination Task

Hang Zhang, Camille Morvan, Louis Alexandre Etezad-Heydari, Laurence T. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined an eye-hand coordination task where optimal visual search and hand movement strategies were inter-related. Observers were asked to find and touch a target among five distractors on a touch screen. Their reward for touching the target was reduced by an amount proportional to how long they took to locate and reach to it. Coordinating the eye and the hand appropriately would markedly reduce the search-reach time. Using statistical decision theory we derived the sequence of interrelated eye and hand movements that would maximize expected gain and we predicted how hand movements should change as the eye gathered further information about target location. We recorded human observers' eye movements and hand movements and compared them with the optimal strategy that would have maximized expected gain. We found that most observers failed to adopt the optimal search-reach strategy. We analyze and describe the strategies they did adopt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1002718
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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