Almost simultaneously readers of the scholar journal Scientific Reports and the Portuguese and English editions of the electronic encyclopaedia Wikipedia had access to the same finding: the relationship between predictability and reaction time is sigmoid, not linear. This finding goes in contrast to what is known as Hick’s Law, a theory on the time a person takes to make a decision as a function of the possibilities that this person faces: more specifically, it is traditionally stated that the reaction time increases as a linear function of the log of the number of alternatives. On March 15, 2016, NeuroMat member André Frazão Helene and colleagues published "On Sequence Learning Models: Open-loop Control Not Strictly Guided by Hick’s Law,” on Scientific Reports, that on March 21 led to a full rewriting of the Portuguese Wikipedia entry on "Lei de Hick" and the incorporation of a section on "Exceptions to Hick's Law” on the English Wikipedia, on March 24. Modifications on the encyclopaedia were in strict accordance with findings in the new scholar publication.
Will the penalty taker shoot for the right, left or center of the football goal? Professional goalkeepers know that they must take into consideration as much information as possible to prevent the score: the history of the rival player, the position of the taker before contact, and so on. By doing so, goalkeepers are in fact generating a model to improve their prediction about how to stop the hit, though they might not even realize the cognitive process at play. This general idea —that one could call the Goalkeeper’s Dilemma— is potentially the basis of a renewed contribution to the understanding of brain functioning, at least according to members of an ongoing research project at FAPESP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat).
NeuroMat has launched a strategic roadmap to direct research, technology-transfer and scientific-dissemination activities until 2018. NeuroMat is the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics, created in 2013 and hosted at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. The general goal of this project that probabilist Antonio Galves leads since its inception is to devise the new mathematics that are needed to make sense of the large, continuous inflow of research results neurobiology generates.
Full text in Portuguese.
by Antonio Carlos Roque*
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