Implicitly evoked actions modulate visual selection: evidence from parietal extinction

Curr Biol. 2005 Aug 23;15(16):1469-72. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.06.068.


It has been proposed that the mental representation of a graspable object involves not only a description of its visual properties but also encodings of the motor programs to act upon it. Thus, observing a handle automatically primes the motor programs responsible for reaching and grasping it. Here, we provide neurological evidence that such action-related object features can bias visual selection. Two patients with visual extinction after right-parietal injury detected cups with left- or right-oriented handles, briefly displayed in either or both visual fields. People with this disorder have deficient awareness for stimuli toward the contralesional, left side of space, especially when competing stimuli appear further to the right. This contralesional extinction was significantly reduced when cups had handles affording a left-hand grasp, even though no hand response was required. No effect was found when handles were replaced with patches equated for position, size, and mean luminance. These data suggest that action-related information may be correctly extracted by the visual system, even though they are unavailable for conscious report. It is proposed that an object affordance for grasping modulates attentional selection by activating specific motor schema that, in turn, enhance the competitive strength of that object representation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Efferent Pathways / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe / injuries
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology