Recognition by Action: Dissociating Visual and Semantic Routes to Action in Normal Observers

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Abstract

In this article the operation of a direct visual route to action in response to objects, in addition to a semantically mediated route, is demonstrated. Four experiments were conducted in which participants made gesturing or naming responses to pictures under deadline conditions. There was a cross-over interaction in the number of visual errors relative to the number of semantic plus semantic-visual errors in the two tasks: In gesturing, compared with naming, participants made higher proportions of visual errors and lower proportions of semantic plus semantic-visual errors (Experiments 1, 3, and 4). These results suggest that naming and gesturing are dependent on separate information-processing routes from stimulus to response, with gesturing dependent on a visual route in addition to a semantic route. Partial activation of competing responses from the visual information present in objects (mediated by the visual route to action) leads to high proportions of visual errors under deadline conditions. Also, visual errors do not occur when gestures are made in response to words under a deadline (Experiment 2), which indicates that the visual route is specific to seen objects.

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