Decision landscapes: Visualizing mouse-tracking data

A. Zgonnikov*, A. Aleni, P. T. Piiroinen, D. O’Hora, M. di Bernardo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
229 Downloads (Pure)


Computerized paradigms have enabled gathering rich data on human behaviour, including information on motor execution of a decision, e.g. by tracking mouse cursor trajectories. These trajectories can reveal novel information about ongoing decision processes. As the number and complexity of mouse-tracking studies increase, more sophisticated methods are needed to analyse the decision trajectories. Here, we present a new computational approach to generating decision landscape visualizations based on mouse-tracking data. A decision landscape is an analogue of an energy potential field mathematically derived from the velocity of mouse movement during a decision. Visualized as a threedimensional surface, it provides a comprehensive overview of decision dynamics. Employing the dynamical systems theory framework, we develop a new method for generating decision landscapes based on arbitrary number of trajectories. This approach not only generates three-dimensional illustration of decision landscapes, but also describes mouse trajectories by a number of interpretable parameters. These parameters characterize dynamics of decisions in more detail compared with conventional measures, and can be compared across experimental conditions, and even across individuals. The decision landscape visualization approach is a novel tool for analysing mouse trajectories during decision execution, which can provide new insights into individual differences in the dynamics of decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170482
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2017

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Mathematics Research Group


  • Decision making
  • Dynamical systems
  • Mouse tracking


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