Action biases perceptual decisions toward expected outcomes

Yon, Daniel; Zainzinger, Vanessa; de Lange, Floris P.; Eimer, Martin and Press, Clare. 2021. Action biases perceptual decisions toward expected outcomes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150(6), pp. 1225-1236. ISSN 0096-3445 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

We predict how our actions will influence the world around us. Prevailing models of action control propose that we use these predictions to suppress or ‘cancel’ perception of expected action outcomes. However, contrasting normative Bayesian models in sensory cognition suggest that top-down predictions bias observers toward perceiving what they expect. Here we adjudicated between these models by investigating how expectations influence perceptual decisions about briefly presented action outcomes. Contrary to dominant cancellation models, we found that observers’ perceptual decisions are biased toward the presence of outcomes congruent with their actions. Computational modelling revealed this action-induced bias reflected a bias in how sensory evidence was accumulated, rather than a baseline shift in decision circuits. In combination, these results reveal a gain control mechanism that can explain how we generate largely veridical representations of our actions and their consequences in an inherently uncertain sensory world.

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This work was funded by grants from the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2016-105) and Wellcome Trust (204770/Z/16/Z).

"©American Psychological Association, 2020. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/xge0000826"


action; perception; prediction; computational modelling

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17 April 2020Accepted
7 December 2020Published Online

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23 Apr 2020 08:50

Last Modified:

19 Oct 2021 18:13

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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