Outcome probability modulates anticipatory behavior to signals that are equally reliable.
Bottom Line: They were differentially followed by the outcome, but they were equally (and relatively weakly) reliable.Participants prepared more for the outcome (a Martians' invasion) when the outcome was most probable.These results indicate that the probability of the outcome can bias preparatory behavior to occur with different intensities despite identical outcome signaling.
Affiliation: Deusto University, Spain.
A stimulus is a reliable signal of an outcome when the probability that the outcome occurs in its presence is different from in its absence. Reliable signals of important outcomes are responsible for triggering critical anticipatory or preparatory behavior, which is any form of behavior that prepares the organism to receive a biologically significant event. Previous research has shown that humans and other animals prepare more for outcomes that occur in the presence of highly reliable (i.e., highly contingent) signals, that is, those for which that difference is larger. However, it seems reasonable to expect that, all other things being equal, the probability with which the outcome follows the signal should also affect preparatory behavior. In the present experiment with humans, we used two signals. They were differentially followed by the outcome, but they were equally (and relatively weakly) reliable. The dependent variable was preparatory behavior in a Martians video game. Participants prepared more for the outcome (a Martians' invasion) when the outcome was most probable. These results indicate that the probability of the outcome can bias preparatory behavior to occur with different intensities despite identical outcome signaling.
No MeSH data available.
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Mentions: Figure 1 shows the suppression ratios for Signals A and B and for Contexts 1 and 2 across training. Because trials at the end of training are the most likely to yield asymptotic results, we compared the mean suppression ratios of the last trial with each signal. Behavioral suppression was stronger when B, the signal that was associated to a greater probability of the outcome, was present, than when A, which was associated to a lower probability of the outcome, was present. A repeated measures t-test on the mean suppression ratios during these trials with signal (A vs. B) confirmed that, as expected, participants suppressed their behavior more for B (M=0.315, SD=0.078) than for A (M=0.356, SD=0.116), t(35)=2.503, p<.05, dz=0.41. Therefore, although both signals were equally weak predictors of the outcome, the signal holding the highest P(O/S) influenced behavior by yielding more preparation for the outcome under that condition.
No MeSH data available.