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Catherine Reed, George Park; To the end! Distribution of attention along a tool in peri- and extrapersonal space. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):560. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.560.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Tools extend our functional capabilities from peripersonal to extrapersonal space. Researchers debate whether attention is distributed along the tool or to its end and whether tools affect attention similarly in both spaces. We investigated this issue using a handheld tool with a cup at its middle and end. Participants held the tool in their right hand over a flat monitor. They performed a 50/50 go/nogo task with target locations next to each cup. In Experiment 1, groups performed the task either in peripersonal (near the body; tool held horizontally) or extrapersonal space (beyond arms’ reach; tool held straight). If attention goes to the end of the tool, faster RTs were predicted for targets near the tool’s end; if attention is distributed along the tool, then RTs would be similar at both target locations. Regardless of space, faster RTs were found for targets near the tool’s end. Faster RTs were also found for peripersonal space overall, but no interaction. In Experiment 2, participants used the middle of the tool in a hockey-like game prior to the task to determine whether functional interaction changed attentional distribution. Faster RTs were found to targets at tool’s end, and in peripersonal space. A tool part X space interaction suggested that functional interaction reduced performance differences between tool parts but only in peripersonal space. Study results indicate that attention is naturally drawn to the end of the tool but that functional tool use can redistribute attention. Functional interactions with a tool in peripersonal space integrate multisensory inputs to more evenly distribute attention between a tool’s mechanical (i.e., its ability to extend reach) and functional advantages (i.e., middle tool part). For tool use in extrapersonal space, functional interaction did not affect attention, suggesting that tool use does not fully extend it from peripersonal to extrapersonal space.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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