Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Decomposing the Action Effect: How Simple Actions Affect Subsequent Perception

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Decomposing the Action Effect: How Simple Actions Affect Subsequent Perception

Article excerpt

Published online: 14 March 2014

# Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Simple actions toward an object cause people to allocate attention preferentially toward properties of that object in subsequent unrelated tasks. We show here that it is not necessary to process or attend to any properties of the object in order to obtain the effect: Even when participants knew prior to the object's onset that they would be acting, the effects of the object remained. Furthermore, the effect remained when the action had no visible effect on the object. In addition, we examined the extent to which the effect may be due to goal updating (which is necessary only on trials that require action) and found that the effect remained even when goal updating was not necessary. The results reveal that a simple action does, indeed, affect perception and have implications for understanding vision as individuals make actions in naturally occurring behavior.

Keywords Visual search . Perception and action

The effect of simple actions on perception

It has been known for some time that perception is used to guide action (e.g., Woodworth, 1899). However, it has only recently been established that this interaction goes both ways: Action can also affect perception. For example, one's ability to interact with the environment can affect perception: The abil- ity to reach an object with a tool scales perception so that such objects are perceived to be closer than when a tool is unavail- able (e.g., Bloesch, Davoli, Roth, Brockmole, & Abrams, 2012; Davoli, Brockmole, & Witt, 2012; Witt, Proffitt, & Epstein, 2005).

Other research has indicated that preparation of an action can affect subsequent perception. For example, Deubel and Schneider (1996) illustrated that target discrimination is facil- itated at the location of a planned saccade, as compared with other nearby locations to which an action was not planned. In addition, planning a specific type of hand movement can affect perception. For example, when individuals are prepar- ing to grasp an object, they become more sensitive to features relevant to grasping (e.g., orientation or size) than to those irrelevant to grasping (e.g., color or luminance; Bekkering & Neggers, 2002; Wykowska, Schubö, & Hommel, 2009). In addition, specific grasps facilitate grasp-relevant perception: When participants prepared to make a power grip, they de- tected large objects more quickly than small objects in a change blindness paradigm, whereas when they prepared a precision grip, detection of smaller objects was facilitated (Symes, Tucker, Ellis, Vainio, & Ottoboni, 2008).

Recently, Buttaccio and Hahn (2011) examined another way in which action affects perception-specifically, how a simple response directed toward an object might affect per- ception. Unlike prior research that investigated how the ability to act or the preparation of an action affects online perception, Buttaccio and Hahn (2011) were interested in determining how an action toward an object will affect subsequent deploy- ment of attention toward objects with similar attributes. Spe- cifically, in their initial experiment, the authors presented participants with a cue consisting of a color name (e.g., "blue") followed by a colored shape, the prime. If the color name matched the color of the prime (e.g., if the shape was also blue), participants were instructed to respond with a manual keypress as quickly as possible (go trial). If the word cue did not match the color of the shape (e.g, "blue" was followed by a green shape), the participant did nothing but view the prime (no-go trial). Following a brief delay, participants performed a visual search task. Although the prime color was uninformative, participants were faster to find the target if it appeared in the prime'scolor,ascomparedwith when a distractor appeared in the prime's color. Importantly, that effect occurred only on the go trials, when the subject had produced an action directed toward the prime (and hence, we refer to the phenomenon as the action effect). …

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