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The recording and analysis of hand movements

The recording and analysis of hand movements has become a popular tool in the cognitive sciences to investigate the temporal development of preferences and the competition between response alternatives. In a typical hand- or mouse-tracking study, participants decide between different options that are presented as buttons on a screen. During this task, their hand movements are continuously recorded by registering the position of the hand directly via motion tracking or indirectly by tracking computer mouse movements. The resulting movement data can be analyzed in a multitude of ways to shed light on the underlying cognitive processes and test psychological theories. In this contribution, we present a number of open-source tools that implement recent advances in the analysis of mouse- and handtracking data. These include tools for the spatial clustering of trajectories, the mapping of trajectories onto prototypes, and assessing the temporal order with which different areas of interest were visited in a trial. Besides, we offer tools for visualizing movement trajectories via animations, heatmaps, and riverbed plots. These analyses and visualizations allow for answering different research questions, such as which option was initially preferred in a trial, determining if and how often participants changed their mind, and uncovering if movement trajectories are homogenously distributed across trials or whether different types of movements are present in the data. All of these methods are implemented in the mousetrap R package, which is freely available from