Tobias Grage, Martin Schoemann, Pascal J. Kieslich, Stefan Scherbaum
Lost to translation: How design factors of the mouse-tracking procedure impact the inference from action to cognition

Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 2019: 81, issue 7, pp. 2538–2557
ISSN: 1943-3921 (print); 1943-393X (online)

From an embodiment perspective, action and cognition influence each other constantly. This interaction has been utilized in mouse-tracking studies to infer cognitive states from movements, assuming a continuous manifestation of cognitive processing into movement. However, it is mostly unknown how this manifestation is affected by the variety of possible design choices in mouse-tracking paradigms. Here we studied how three design factors impact the manifestation of cognition into movement in a Simon task with mouse tracking. We varied the response selection (i.e., with or without clicking), the ratio between hand and mouse cursor movement, and the location of the response boxes. The results show that all design factors can blur or even prevent the manifestation of cognition into movement, as reflected by a reduction in movement consistency and action dynamics, as well as by the adoption of unsuitable movement strategies. We conclude that deliberate and careful design choices in mouse-tracking experiments are crucial to ensuring a continuous manifestation of cognition in movement. We discuss the importance of developing a standard practice in the design of mouse-tracking experiments.