Ch 4 selection and control of action
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Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Third Edition. CH_4 Selection and Control of Action. Robert W. Proctor Kim-Phuong L. Vu Edited by Gavriel Salvendy Lim, Soo Yong. Contents. Introduction Selection of Action Methods Action Selection in Single-Task Performance

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Ch 4 selection and control of action

Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Third Edition

CH_4Selection and Control of Action

Robert W. Proctor

Kim-Phuong L. Vu

Edited by GavrielSalvendy

Lim, Soo Yong



  • Introduction

  • Selection of Action

    • Methods

    • Action Selection in Single-Task Performance

    • Action Selection in Multiple-Task Performance

  • Motor Control

    • Methods

    • Control of Selection

    • Coordination of Effectors

    • Sequencing and Timing of Action

    • Motor Learning and Acquisition of Skill

  • Summary and Conclusions

1 introduction

1. Introduction

  • Research on selection and control of action has developed contemporaneously with that on human factors.

    • Hick-Hyman law and Fitts’ law are the few well-established quantitative laws of behavior

  • Paul M. Fitts

    • He made many empirical and theoretical contributions to knowledge concerning selection and control of action.

      • Fitts’s law

      • the principles of stimulus-response(S-R) compatibility

  • The relation between perception and action is currently a very active area of research in psychology and associated fields.

2 selection of action

2. Selection of Action

2.1 Methods

  • Selection of action is most often studied in choice-reaction tasks.

    • Response time (RT) is recorded as the primary measure and error rate as a secondary measure.

  • Primary variables affecting the duration of action process

    • S-R uncertainty, S-R compatibility, response precuing, sequential dependencies

  • Information about the nature of action selection

    • mean RT, RT distribution, percentage of error, specific types of errors, indicators of brain functions

  • Speed-accuracy trade-off (figure 1)

    • one well-established principle of performance in choice-reaction tasks

  • Choice RT methods

    • not only can be used to examine action selection under single-task performance,

    • but also under conditions in which two or more task sets must be maintained,

      • actions to each must be performed concurrently

      • or the person is required to switch between the various tasks periodically.

2 selection of action1

2. Selection of Action

2.2 Action Selection in Single-Task Performance

2.2.1 Uncertainty and Number of Alternatives: Hick-Hyman Law

  • Hick-Hyman Law (figure 2)

    • interested in whether effects of S-R uncertainty could be explained in terms of information theory

    • showing a systematic increase in choice RT as the number of S-R alternatives increased.

    • In both Hick and Hyman’s study, RT increased as a logarithmic function of the average amount of information conveyed by a stimulus.

    • the cost associated with high event uncertainty can be reduced by

      • using highly compatible display-control arrangements

      • giving the operators training on the task

2 selection of action2

2. Selection of Action

2.2 Action Selection in Single-Task Performance (Cont.)

2.2.2 Stimulus-Response Compatibility

  • Spatial Compatibility (figure 3)

    • The responses were fastest and most accurate when the display and control configurations corresponded spatially than when they did not. (Fitts and Seeger, 1953)

    • Simon effect (figure 4)

      • spatial correspondence not only benefits performance when stimulus location is relevant to the task but also when it is irrelevant

  • Accounts of S-R Compatibility

    • S-R compatibility effects attribute them to two factors

      • direct, or automatic, activation of the corresponding response

      • intentional translation of the stimulus into the desired response

  • Dimensional Overlap

    • Kornblum introduced the term dimensional overlap to describe stimulus and response sets are perceptually or conceptually similar.

  • Action Goals and Structural Correspondence (figure 5)

    • S-R Compatibility effects are determined largely by action goals and not the actual physical responses.

2 selection of action3

2. Selection of Action

2.2 Action Selection in Single-Task Performance (Cont.)

2.2.3 Sequential Effects

  • Repetition benefit

    • increases in size as the number of S-R alternatives becomes larger and is greater for incompatible S-R mappings than for compatible ones

    • residual activation from the preceding trial when the current trial is identical to it and intentional preparation for what is expected on the next trial

  • Negative priming (figure 6)

    • in the Stroop color-naming task, RT is typically longer if the relevant stimulus value on a trial is the same as that of the irrelevant information on the previous trial

  • Simon task

    • non-corresponding information from the previous trial can alter how the present trial is processed

    • suppression/release hypothesis (Stürmer, 1999)

    • event-file hypothesis (Hommel, 1998; 2004)

2 selection of action4

2. Selection of Action

2.2 Action Selection in Single-Task Performance (Cont.)

2.2.4 Preparation and Advance Information

  • When a stimulus to which a response is required occurs unexpectedly, the response to it will be slower than when it is expected.

    • RT decreases and error rate increases as the warning interval increases

  • People can also use informative cues to prepare for subsets of stimuli and responses.

    2.2.5 Acquisition and Transfer of Action-Selection Skill

  • Practice results in performance becoming increasingly automatized.

    • Newell and Rosenbloom (1981)

    • Heathcote (2000)

  • Practice in spatial choice tasks involve primarily the mappings of the stimuli to spatial response codes and not to the specific motor effectors.

A : asymptotic RT

B : performance time on the first trial

N : the number of practice trials

β : learning rate

α : rate parameter

2 selection of action5

2. Selection of Action

2.3 Action Selection in Multiple-Task Performance

2.3.1 Task Switching and Mixing Costs

  • Mixing cost

  • Switch cost

  • Preparation benefit

  • Residual cost

  • Cost associated with mixing an easy task with a more difficult one are often larger for the easier task.

  • In a two-choice spatial compatibility task, the advantage for the compatible spatial mapping is eliminated when compatible and incompatible mappings are mixed.

  • 2 selection of action6

    2. Selection of Action

    2.3 Action Selection in Multiple-Task Performance (Cont.)

    2.3.2 Psychological Refractory Period (PRP)

    • Refers to slowing of RT for the second of two tasks that are performed in rapid succession

    • Central Bottleneck Model (figure 7)

      • the most widely accepted account of the PRP effect

    • EPIC

      • architecture consists of perceptual, cognitive, and motor components that does not include a limit on central processing capacity

      • limits in the systems are attributed to the sensory and motor effectors, not to the central processes

        • central limitations arise from individuals’ strategies for satisfying task demands

    3 motor control

    3. Motor Control

    3.1 Methods

    • Some issues include the nature of movement representation, the role of sensory feedback in movement execution, and the way in which motor actions are sequenced.

      3.2 Control of Action

    • Open-loop vs. Closed-loop

      • a movement under open-loop control can be executed quickly, without a delay to process feedback, but at a cost of limited accuracy

      • closed-loop control is slower but more accurate

      • both types of control are often combined

        3.2.1 Fitts’s Law (figure 8)

      • Meyer provided the most complete account of the relation, a stochastic optimized-submovement model.

    3 motor control1

    3. Motor Control

    3.2 Control of Action (Cont.)

    3.2.2 Motor Preparation and Advance Specification of Movement Properties

    • Lateralized readiness potential

      • movement of a limb is preceded by preparatory processes at the motor system.

    • Advance specification of movement parameters

      • one or more parameters are precued prior to presentation of the stimulus to which the person is to respond, the idea being that RT will decrease if those parameters can be specified in advance.

      • drawback : the particular patterns of results may be determined more by S-R compatibility rather than by the motoric preparation process itself


    3 motor control2

    3. Motor Control

    3.2 Control of Action (Cont.)

    3.2.3 Visual Feedback

    • Woodworth (1899)

      • visual feedback had no effect on performance at rates of 180 per minute or greater

      • the minimum time required to process visual feedback was 450 ms

    • Keele and Posner (1968)

      • the minimum duration for processing visual feedback is between 190 and 260 ms

    • Zelaznik (1983)

      • feedback can be used for movements with durations of only slightly longer than 100 ms

    • Proteau and Cournoyer (1992)

      • visual feedback decreases as a movement task is practiced

      • but evidence indicates that vision remains important

    3 motor control3

    3. Motor Control

    3.3 Coordination of Effectors

    • Bimanual movements – tendency toward mirror symmetry (figure 9)

      • easy to perform symmetric movements of the arms

      • attributed to co-activation of homologous muscles

    • Bias is toward spatial symmetry and not motor symmetry

      • motion commands plays virtually no role in defining preferred coordination patterns, in particular the symmetry tendency

        3.4 Sequencing and Timing of Action

    • The speed with a sequence of actions

      • motor plans are structured hierarchically (figure 10)

      • the pattern of latencies was predicted by a model that assumed the memory representation for the sequence was coded in a hierarchical decision tree

    • The timing of actions (Wing and Kristofferson)

      • variance of the interval between responses should increase as the delay between the responses increases

      • the adjacent interresponse intervals should be negatively correlated

    3 motor control4

    3. Motor Control

    3.5 Motor Learning and Acquisition of Skill

    3.5.1 Practice Schedules

    • Distributed practice vs. Massed practice

      • massed practice depresses learning in motor tasks that require continuous movements

      • for discrete tasks, massed practice may be beneficial to learning

    • Contextual Interference Effect

      • retention and transfer of motor tasks were better when the tasks are practiced in random order than in distinct blocks

    • Three types of part-task, or part-whole, practice distinguished (figure 11)

      • segmentation

      • fractionation

      • simplificaiton

        3.5.2 Provision of Feedback

    • Knowledge of results(KR), Knowledge of performance


    4 summary and conclusions

    4. Summary and Conclusions

    • For performance of the human component to be optimal,

      • it is necessary not only to consider how the machine should display information regarding its states and activities to the human,

      • but also to take into account the processes by which the human selects and executes actions in the sequence of the interaction

    • Models of various types have been developed for various domains that provide predictions of how performance will be affected by numerous variables.

    • The laws, principles, and model characteristics can be incorporated into cognitive architectures such as EPIC and ACT-R/PM

      • that enable quantitative predictions for complex tasks of the type encountered in much of human factors.

    Ch 4 selection and control of action

    Q & A


    Q & A

    Figure 1 speed accuracy trade off

    Figure 1. Speed-accuracy Trade-off


    Figure 2 hick hyman law

    Figure 2. Hick-Hyman Law

    The slope is typically shallower for highly compatible S-R pairings than for less compatible ones.


    Figure 3

    Figure 3.


    Figure 3 1

    Figure 3-1


    Figure 3 2

    Figure 3-2


    Figure 4

    Figure 4.


    Figure 5

    Figure 5.

    음성 자극(action goal)이 주어지는 곳으로 움직이도록 하는데, light가 그 위치에 있을 수록 더 performance가 좋다.


    Figure 6

    Figure 6

    Nintendo DS의

    두뇌 training 게임


    Figure 7 central bottleneck model

    Figure 7. Central Bottleneck Model


    Figure 8 fitts law

    Figure 8. Fitts’ Law


    Figure 9

    Figure 9.


    Figure 10

    Figure 10.


    Figure 11

    Figure 11.


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