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A Look into the Future: Anticipatory saccades shed light on human action control

Team:

 Christina Pfeuffer

Dr. Christina Pfeuffer

Principal Investigator

christina.pfeuffer@psychologie.uni-freiburg.de

 

Collaborators:

Prof. Dr. Andrea Kiesel

Prof. Dr. Lynn Huestegge, University of Würzburg

Research Assistants:                     

Li Keintzel

Ana-Maria Rosca

Insa Schaffernak

 

Abstract:

In everyday life, humans act goal-directedly without apparent effort. From an infinite number of possible actions, we select exactly the action that will produce a desired effect. Ideomotor theory of endogenous action control addresses the question how humans are able to select appropriate actions to achieve desired effects by suggesting bi-directional associations between actions and their effects in the environment, for instance, between pressing the light switch and the light turning on. Thus, anticipating an effect allows for selecting the associated action that will produce it. The last decades have seen a vast body of research supporting the idea that action effect anticipations enable goal-directed action control by influencing action selection. Interestingly, early ideomotor theorists already proposed a second mechanism central to human action control: Effect monitoring. This claim that humans need to compare expected and actual effects to evaluate goal achievement, however, has received relatively little attention in present research on human action control. Recently, I have developed an eye tracking paradigm that allows for simultaneously assessing processes of anticipatory action selection and proactive effect monitoring. Participants press left/right keys in order to produce predictable visual action effects on the left/right side that occur after a short delay. In this paradigm, processes of anticipatory action selection can be assessed via performance difference between actions that will produce spatially-compatible and spatially-incompatible effects, whereas effect monitoring is assessed via anticipatory saccades towards the predictable future location of an action´s effect that occur before this effect has appeared. Most interestingly, the presence of these anticipatory saccades suggests a proactive effect monitoring process that reflects the expected effects and supports a later comparison of expected and actual effect. Within the scope of this project, I aim to simultaneously and systematically investigate both mechanisms of goal-directed action control - anticipatory action selection and proactive effect monitoring - as well as their interaction to gain a unified framework of action control. I will first examine proactive effect monitoring as reflected in anticipatory saccades more closely under different action control modes. Subsequently, I will systematically investigate which features of a future action effect are proactively monitored to determine the specificity of proactive effect monitoring. Finally, I will study the interaction of anticipatory action selection and proactive effect monitoring processes within a proposed unified model of human endogenous action control.

 

related publications and preprints:

Pfeuffer, C. U., Aufschnaiter, S., Thomaschke, R., & Kiesel, A. (in press). Only Time will Tell the Future: Anticipatory saccades reveal the temporal dynamics of time-based location and task expectancy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

Pfeuffer, C. U., Kiesel, A., & Huestegge, L. (2020/preprint). Proactive Effect Monitoring does not Differ between Free Choice and Forced Choice Actions. Preprint available online. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.19875.48167/1

 

related previous work:

Pfeuffer, C.U., Kiesel, A., & Huestegge, L. (2016). A Look into the Future: Spontaneous anticipatory saccades reflect processes of anticipatory action control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145, 1530-1547.

 

related presentations:

  • Pfeuffer, C. U. & Kiesel, A. (2020, November). Performance-Effect Coupling: Can we learn to anticipate action consequences on the basis of our own reaction time?. Poster session presented at the Virtual Annual Meeting of the Psychonomics Society, USA.
  • Keintzel, S. L. & Pfeuffer, C. U. (2020, November). The Future at Face Value - Anticipatory Saccades Differ between Social and Neutral Action Effects. Poster session presented at the Virtual Annual Meeting of the Psychonomics Society, USA.
  • Pfeuffer, C. U. & Stengele, S. (2020, June). Attentional Capture by Future Events: Anticipatory saccades towards salient and non-salient action consequences are influenced by individual exogenous and endogenous attention. Paper presented at the Transdisciplinary Research Association on Cognition & Embodiment (TRACE) Workshop on Attention and Action, Würzburg, Germany. (cancelled due to the Corona outbreak)
  • Pfeuffer, C. U. & Stengele, S. (2020, March). That will Catch my Attention!: Is the salience of an action´s future effect anticipated and proactively monitored?. Paper presented at the Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen, Jena, Germany. (cancelled due to the Corona outbreak)
  • Koger, A., & Pfeuffer, C. U. (2019, November). Expecting the Unpredictable: On the influence of temporal action effect predictability on anticipatory saccades. Poster session presented at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Montreal, Canada.
  • Dames, H., & Pfeuffer, C. U. (2019, September). Anticipatory saccades reveal increased proactive monitoring in post-error trials. In C. U. Pfeuffer (Chair), The origins and consequences of monitoring processes in human action control. Symposium conducted at the Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.
  • Pfeuffer, C. U. & Kiesel, A. (2019, September). On the proactive monitoring of future action consequences and its coupling with effect-generating actions. In C. U. Pfeuffer (Chair), The origins and consequences of monitoring processes in human action control. Symposium conducted at the Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.
  • Pfeuffer, C. U. (2019, August). Looking Near and Looking Far: Do humans monitor the exact locations of their actions´ future consequences?. Poster session presented at the European Conference on Eye Movements, Alicante, Spain.
  • Pfeuffer, C. U. (2019, April). Proactive effect monitoring for forced-choice and free-choice actions. In C. U. Pfeuffer & F. Goller (Chairs), Visual attention´s three guides. Symposium conducted at the Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen, London, UK.
  • Pfeuffer, C. U. (2019, March). Response-effect associations regulate both the selection and monitoring of goal-directed actions - evidence from anticipatory saccades. In T. Martiny-Huenger (Chair), Addressing the Homunculus in the Room – Alternative Mechanisms to Account for Cognitive Control. Symposium conducted at the International Convention of Psychological Science, Paris, France.
  • Pfeuffer, C. U., & Kiesel, A. (2018, November). It´s Time to Look into the Future: Anticipatory saccades show that proactive monitoring of future action effects is temporally coupled with the time of the effect and the time of the action. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, New Orleans, LA.
  • Pfeuffer, C. U., Aufschnaiter, S., Thomaschke, R., & Kiesel, A. (2018, May). Eye movements reveal the temporal dynamics of time-based task location and task type expectancies. Paper presented at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

 

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