Intermittent control: A computational theory of human control

Gawthrop, P., Loram, I., Lakie, M. and Gollee, H. (2011) Intermittent control: A computational theory of human control. Biological Cybernetics, 104(1-2), pp. 31-51. (doi: 10.1007/s00422-010-0416-4)

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The paradigm of continuous control using internal models has advanced understanding of human motor control. However, this paradigm ignores some aspects of human control, including intermittent feedback, serial ballistic control, triggered responses and refractory periods. It is shown that event-driven intermittent control provides a framework to explain the behaviour of the human operator under a wider range of conditions than continuous control. Continuous control is included as a special case, but sampling, system matched hold, an intermittent predictor and an event trigger allow serial open-loop trajectories using intermittent feedback. The implementation here may be described as "continuous observation, intermittent action". Beyond explaining unimodal regulation distributions in common with continuous control, these features naturally explain refractoriness and bimodal stabilisation distributions observed in double stimulus tracking experiments and quiet standing, respectively. Moreover, given that human control systems contain significant time delays, a biological-cybernetic rationale favours intermittent over continuous control: intermittent predictive control is computationally less demanding than continuous predictive control. A standard continuous-time predictive control model of the human operator is used as the underlying design method for an event-driven intermittent controller. It is shown that when event thresholds are small and sampling is regular, the intermittent controller can masquerade as the underlying continuous-time controller and thus, under these conditions, the continuous-time and intermittent controller cannot be distinguished. This explains why the intermittent control hypothesis is consistent with the continuous control hypothesis for certain experimental conditions.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gollee, Dr Henrik and Gawthrop, Professor Peter
Authors: Gawthrop, P., Loram, I., Lakie, M., and Gollee, H.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Biomedical Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Journal Name:Biological Cybernetics
ISSN (Online):1432-0770
Published Online:17 February 2011

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
476761Intermittent predictive control of man and machineHenrik GolleeEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/F069022/1Biomedical Engineering