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Durham University



Publication details for Professor Marko Nardini

Dekker, T. M. & Nardini, M. (2016). Risky visuomotor choices during rapid reaching in childhood. Developmental Science 19(3): 427-439.

Author(s) from Durham


Many everyday actions are implicit gambles because imprecisions in our visuomotor systems place probabilities on our success or failure. Choosing optimal action strategies involves weighting the costs and gains of potential outcomes by their corresponding probabilities, and requires stable representations of one's own imprecisions. How this ability is acquired during development in childhood when visuomotor skills change drastically is unknown. In a rewarded rapid reaching task, 6- to 11-year-old children followed ‘risk-seeking’ strategies leading to overly high point-loss. Adults' performance, in contrast, was close to optimal. Children's errors were not explained by distorted estimates of value or probability, but may reflect different action selection criteria or immature integration of value and probability information while planning movements. These findings provide a starting point for understanding children's risk-taking in everyday visuomotor situations when suboptimal choices can be dangerous. Moreover, children's risky visuomotor decisions mirror those reported for non-motor gambles, raising the possibility that common processes underlie development across decision-making domains.

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