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Journal Article


Markkula G, Boer E, Romano R, Merat N. Biol. Cybern. 2018; 112(3): 181-207.


Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


(Copyright © 2018, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group)






A conceptual and computational framework is proposed for modelling of human sensorimotor control and is exemplified for the sensorimotor task of steering a car. The framework emphasises control intermittency and extends on existing models by suggesting that the nervous system implements intermittent control using a combination of (1) motor primitives, (2) prediction of sensory outcomes of motor actions, and (3) evidence accumulation of prediction errors. It is shown that approximate but useful sensory predictions in the intermittent control context can be constructed without detailed forward models, as a superposition of simple prediction primitives, resembling neurobiologically observed corollary discharges. The proposed mathematical framework allows straightforward extension to intermittent behaviour from existing one-dimensional continuous models in the linear control and ecological psychology traditions. Empirical data from a driving simulator are used in model-fitting analyses to test some of the framework's main theoretical predictions: it is shown that human steering control, in routine lane-keeping and in a demanding near-limit task, is better described as a sequence of discrete stepwise control adjustments, than as continuous control.

RESULTS on the possible roles of sensory prediction in control adjustment amplitudes, and of evidence accumulation mechanisms in control onset timing, show trends that match the theoretical predictions; these warrant further investigation. The results for the accumulation-based model align with other recent literature, in a possibly converging case against the type of threshold mechanisms that are often assumed in existing models of intermittent control.

Language: en


Corollary discharge; Evidence accumulation; Motor primitive; Sensorimotor control; Sensory prediction; Steering


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