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Intuitive physical reasoning about objects’ masses transfers to a visuomotor decision task consistent with Newtonian physics

Neupärtl, Nils ; Tatai, Fabian ; Rothkopf, Constantin A. (2021):
Intuitive physical reasoning about objects’ masses transfers to a visuomotor decision task consistent with Newtonian physics. (Publisher's Version)
In: PLOS Computational Biology, 16 (10), PLOS, ISSN 1553-7358, e-ISSN 1553-734X,
DOI: 10.26083/tuprints-00019272,
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Item Type: Article
Origin: Secondary publication via sponsored Golden Open Access
Status: Publisher's Version
Title: Intuitive physical reasoning about objects’ masses transfers to a visuomotor decision task consistent with Newtonian physics
Language: English
Abstract:

While interacting with objects during every-day activities, e.g. when sliding a glass on a counter top, people obtain constant feedback whether they are acting in accordance with physical laws. However, classical research on intuitive physics has revealed that people’s judgements systematically deviate from predictions of Newtonian physics. Recent research has explained at least some of these deviations not as consequence of misconceptions about physics but instead as the consequence of the probabilistic interaction between inevitable perceptual uncertainties and prior beliefs. How intuitive physical reasoning relates to visuomotor actions is much less known. Here, we present an experiment in which participants had to slide pucks under the influence of naturalistic friction in a simulated virtual environment. The puck was controlled by the duration of a button press, which needed to be scaled linearly with the puck’s mass and with the square-root of initial distance to reach a target. Over four phases of the experiment, uncertainties were manipulated by altering the availability of sensory feedback and providing different degrees of knowledge about the physical properties of pucks. A hierarchical Bayesian model of the visuomotor interaction task incorporating perceptual uncertainty and press-time variability found substantial evidence that subjects adjusted their button-presses so that the sliding was in accordance with Newtonian physics. After observing collisions between pucks, which were analyzed with a hierarchical Bayesian model of the perceptual observation task, subjects transferred the relative masses inferred perceptually to adjust subsequent sliding actions. Crucial in the modeling was the inclusion of a cost function, which quantitatively captures participants’ implicit sensitivity to errors due to their motor variability. Taken together, in the present experiment we find evidence that our participants transferred their intuitive physical reasoning to a subsequent visuomotor control task consistent with Newtonian physics and weighed potential outcomes with a cost functions based on their knowledge about their own variability.

Journal or Publication Title: PLOS Computational Biology
Journal volume: 16
Number: 10
Publisher: PLOS
Collation: 26 Seiten
Classification DDC: 100 Philosophie und Psychologie > 150 Psychologie
Divisions: 03 Department of Human Sciences > Institute for Psychology
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2021 13:06
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2021 13:06
DOI: 10.26083/tuprints-00019272
Corresponding Links:
URN: urn:nbn:de:tuda-tuprints-192720
URI: https://tuprints.ulb.tu-darmstadt.de/id/eprint/19272
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