SpeakerJoint IPAB/ILCC Laurence T Maloney
DateApr 16, 2012
Time11:00AM 12:30PM
LocationS1.7, George Square
TitleBayesian decision theory and the planning of actions: learning, representing and making use of information about motor uncertainty

The movement we plan is not always the movement we execute. Any discrepancy is the consequence of own intrinsic motor uncertainty. I will first describe a model of movement planning based on Bayesian decision theory that takes our own visual and motor uncertainty into account in selecting movement strategies and present experimental evidence suggesting that human movement planners deviate slightly but systematically from optimal (Wu et al, 2009, 2011; Zhang et al, 2012; Zhang & Maloney, 2012). I will next present a recent study of how humans learn to predict their own probability of success in a simple motor task (Schüür et al, in preparation) comparing human performance to optimal Bayesian updating. While human performance is impressive in all of the tasks considered, it is not optimal, and deviations from optimality are potentially a valuable source of information concerning how humans learn, represent and make use of information about uncertainty.

Supported by Grant EY019889 from the National Institutes of Health and the Humboldt Foundation.


Laurence T. Maloney is currently Professor in Psychology and Neural Science at New York University. He has been at New York University since 1988 and was previously Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in Psychology and in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from 1985 until 1988. He received his PhD in Psychology from Stanford University in 1985, an MS in Mathematical Statistics, also from Stanford, in 1982, and a BA in Mathematics from Yale University, in 1973.
In 2008, he received the Humboldt Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation in Germany for his research. In 1987, he shared the Troland Award of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors possible for a psychologist in the United States. In 1994, he was awarded a one-year Research Fellowship at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Bielefeld University by the German Research Council. He was resident at the Center during 1995-6 as part of a group considering perception and evolution. In 1998, he was named Forchheimer Visiting Professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem and in 2009 WICN Scholar at Bangor University, Wales. . He has been a visiting professor at several other universities including Freiburg, Giessen, Paris, and Padova. He has published over 130 articles, proceedings and chapters.

His research concerns applications of mathematical models to understanding human behavior. His work in the physics and mathematics of color vision resulted in two highly-cited articles in the Journal of the Optical Society of America. His early work in visual cue combination led to a highly-cited review article in Vision Research. His recent work on movement planning and decision making under risk has built a bridge between two previously unrelated fields. This work is an important contribution to the newly emerging field of neuroeconomics. Currently, he and his colleagues are studying color perception and surface material perception in complex, three-dimensional scenes, human performance in movement tasks equivalent to economic games, and face perception.

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