Track It to Crack It: Dissecting Processing Stages with Finger Tracking

Dror Dotan, Pedro Pinheiro-Chagas, Fosca Al Roumi, Stanislas Dehaene

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A central goal in cognitive science is to parse the series of processing stages underlying a cognitive task. A powerful yet simple behavioral method that can resolve this problem is finger trajectory tracking: by continuously tracking the finger position and speed as a participant chooses a response, and by analyzing which stimulus features affect the trajectory at each time point during the trial, we can estimate the absolute timing and order of each processing stage, and detect transient effects, changes of mind, serial versus parallel processing, and real-time fluctuations in subjective confidence. We suggest that trajectory tracking, which provides considerably more information than mere response times, may provide a comprehensive understanding of the fast temporal dynamics of cognitive operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1070
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • decision-making
  • serial versus parallel processing
  • trajectory tracking


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