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How action influences object perception

Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00462
  • Psychology
  • Original Research Article


Although object perception is typically associated with the parvocellular (P) pathway, a form of fast “gist” object perception may be due to activity in the magnocellular (M) pathway (Kveraga et al., 2007). Because the M-pathway is typically associated with action, we hypothesized that manipulations of action would influence speeded object perception. In three experiments, participants indicated whether the objects shown in low and high spatial frequency (HSF) images were larger or smaller than a prototypical shoebox. In Experiment 1, participants used a proximal (hands on monitor) or distal (hands on keyboard) hand posture in separate blocks. In Experiment 2, only the proximal hand posture was used, but the hands were either action oriented with palms in (palms toward the stimuli) or non-action oriented with palms out (palms away from the stimuli). In Experiment 3, we used the palms-in proximal hand posture but manipulated the type of visual stimuli such that they were either action oriented (easily grasped) or non-action oriented (not easily grasped). In all three experiments, the advantage in identifying the low spatial frequency (LSF) images was greater when action was primed (proximal hands, palms-in, graspable). Together, these experiments show that the M-pathway is involved in rapid “gist” object perception, and this type of object perception is influenced by action.

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