Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Reduced Visual Feature Binding in the Near-Hand Space

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Reduced Visual Feature Binding in the Near-Hand Space

Article excerpt

Published online: 11 April 2014

# Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Growing evidence suggests that visual information is processed differently in the near-hand space, relative to the space far from the hands. To account for the existing literature, we recently proposed that the costs and benefits of hand proximity may be due to differential contributions of the action-oriented magnocellular (M) and the perception-oriented parvocellular (P) pathways. Evidence suggests that, relative to the space far from the hands, in near-hand space the contribution of the M pathway increases while the contribution of the P pathway decreases. The present study tested an important consequence of this account for visual representation. Given the P pathway's role in feeding regions in which visual representations of unified objects (with bound features) are formed, we predicted that hand proximity would reduce feature binding. Consistent with this prediction, two experiments revealed signs of reduced feature binding in the near-hand space, relative to the far-hand space. We propose that the higher contribution of the M pathway, along with the reduced contribution of the P pathway, shifts visual perception away from an object-based perceptual mode toward a feature-based mode. These results are discussed in light of the distinction between action-oriented and perception-oriented vision.

Keywords Feature integration . Binding . Event files . Hand proximity . Visual pathways

One of the most fundamental and ubiquitous aspects of human existence is a continuous reciprocal cycle of perception and action that shapes our daily behaviors. Examples of perception influencing action are common and easily observed; simply closing your eyes while reaching for your coffee cup will show ample evidence of this direction of the perception- action cycle. The effect of action on perception, however, is more subtle, but nevertheless profound. Indeed, numerous experiments have shown that various types of action affect various types of perceptual phenomena; for instance, rotating a crank arm modulates the direction in which the ambiguous motion of flickering lights is perceived (Wohlschläger, 2000), better golf putters perceive larger holes (Witt, Linkenauger, Bakdash, & Proffitt, 2008), and even performing a simple keypress can influence stimulus identification, depending on the shared features of stimulus and response (Müsseler & Hommel, 1997). These studies are just a few instances of how planning or producing an action influences how we perceive information from the environment.

Over the last five years, one particularly interesting and robust effect of action on perception has emerged. Over a series of experiments, Abrams, Davoli, Du, Knapp, and Paull (2008) explored three common visual attention phenomena: visual search, peripheral cueing, and the attentional blink. In one condition, participants performed these tasks with their hands on two response buttons, far away from the visual stimuli, and in a similar position to the keyboard responses that overwhelmingly dominant cognitive psychology studies. Critically, in the other condition, the two buttons were placed on either side of the monitor, such that their hands were very near the visual stimuli. The differences brought about by hand posture were striking: Steeper search slopes, less inhibition of return, and greater attentional blinks were found in the near- hand condition. Moreover, the effect of hand position is not limited to visual attention tasks, since Davoli, Du, Montana, Garverick, and Abrams (2010) found reduced Stroop interfer- ence at a near-hand position relative to a far-hand position. Indeed, the effect appears in a variety of tasks, since Tseng and Bridgeman (2011) noted better performance on a change detection task.

In order to account for how hand position affects percep- tion, Gozli, West, and Pratt (2012) hypothesized that position- ing both hands near visual stimuli may increase the contribu- tion of the magnocellular (M) visual pathway, while decreas- ing the parvocellular (P) pathway. …

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