Cognitive Neurodynamics

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 171–181 | Cite as

A gaze bias with coarse spatial indexing during a gambling task

  • Noha Mohsen Zommara
  • Muneyoshi Takahashi
  • Kajornvut Ounjai
  • Johan Lauwereyns
Research Article


Researchers have used eye-tracking methods to infer cognitive processes during decision making in choice tasks involving visual materials. Gaze likelihood analysis has shown a cascading effect, suggestive of a causal role for the gaze in preference formation during evaluative decision making. According to the gaze bias hypothesis, the gaze serves to build commitment gradually towards a choice. Here, we applied gaze likelihood analysis in a two-choice version of the well-known Iowa Gambling Task. This task requires active learning of the value of different choice options. As such, it does not involve visual preference formation, but choice optimization through learning. In Experiment 1 we asked subjects to choose between two decks with different payoff structures, and to give their responses using mouse clicks. Two groups of subjects were exposed to stable versus varying outcome contingencies. The analysis revealed a pronounced gaze bias towards the chosen stimuli in both groups of subjects, plateauing at more than 400 ms before the choice. The early plateauing suggested that the gaze effect partially reflected eye-hand coordination. In Experiment 2 we asked subjects to give responses using a key press. The results again showed a clear gaze bias towards the chosen deck, this time without any influence from eye-hand coordination. In both experiments, there was a clear gaze bias towards the choice even though the gaze fixations did not narrowly focus on the spatial positions of choice options. Taken together, the data suggested a role for gaze in coarse spatial indexing during non-perceptual decision making.


Iowa Gambling Task Decision-making Gaze bias Preference formation 



This work was supported by a YKK Leadership Scholarship from the Yoshida Foundation and a Graduate Scholarship from the Mitsubishi Corporation to N. M. Z. Further support came from Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research 16H03751 from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan (MEXT). We thank Shunsuke Kobayashi and Tetsuya Matsuda for valuable comments on the research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Written informed consent according to APA ethical principles was obtained before the experiment. APA guidelines.

Supplementary material

11571_2017_9463_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (366 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 366 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Systems Life SciencesKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan
  2. 2.Brain Science InstituteTamagawa UniversityMachidaJapan

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