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Elizabeth Saccone, Owen Churches, Ancret Szpak, Mike Nicholls; Support for modulation of visuomotor processes in shared, social space: Non-human distractors do not influence motor congruency effects relating to object affordances. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):241. doi: 10.1167/17.10.241.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent research suggests close, interpersonal proximity modulates visuomotor processes for object affordances in shared space. In our previous study, manipulable object stimuli in reachable space elicited motor congruency effects for participants acting alone, but when a co-actor stood opposite, only objects nearest the participant produced motor congruency effects. An alternative, non-social mechanism may explain these findings, however. Perhaps participants perceived the co-actor as a distractor they attempted to ignore, and in doing so neglected the space and stimuli nearby. The current study addressed this alternative explanation with a non-social version of the original experiment, employing non-human distractor items in place of the co-actor. Participants stood at a narrow table, viewing images of household objects on a flat screen. Participants responded to the upright or inverted orientation of objects with left- or right-facing handles. Objects appeared in one of two locations, either nearer or farther from the participant's side of the table. Participants performed the task both alone and with a Japanese waving cat statue (Experiment 1) or a digital metronome (Experiment 2) placed opposite. Both experiments produced the typical object affordance congruency effect; a response advantage when left/right response hand matched the object's left/right handle orientation. In Experiment 1, the cat statue elicited a similar but statistically nonsignificant pattern of results to the original, social study, perhaps reflecting participants' anthropomorphisation of the cat. Accordingly, Experiment 2 employed a distractor that was devoid of human-like features (metronome). The affordance congruency effect emerged but was not modulated by stimulus proximity and metronome presence. These results support past findings indicating social modulation of object affordances in near-body space. Together with the previous study, these results provide an important step towards understanding how visuomotor processes operate in real-world, social contexts and have broad implications for object affordance, joint action and peripersonal space research.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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