A direct effect of perception on action when grasping a cup.
Rounis E., van Polanen V., Davare M.
Affordances represent features of an object that trigger specific actions. Here we tested whether the presence and orientation of a handle on a cup could bias grasping movements towards it in conditions where subjects were explicitly told to ignore the handle. We quantified the grip aperture profile of twelve healthy participants instructed to grasp a cup from its body while it either had no handle, a handle pointing towards, or away from the grasping hand (3 'move' conditions, with large grip aperture). To ensure the smaller grip aperture afforded by the handle was implicitly processed, we interspersed trials in which participants had to grasp the cup from its handle or a handle not attached to a cup with a small grip aperture. We found that grip aperture was smaller in the presence of a handle in the 'move' conditions, independently of its orientation. Our finding, of an effect of the handle during the execution of a grasp action, extends previous evidence of such an influence measured during motor preparation using simple reaction times. It suggests that the specific action elicited by an object's attribute can affect movement performance in a sustained manner throughout movement execution.