Visuomotor priming of action preparation and motor programming is similar in visually guided and memory-guided actions

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Abstract

The present study examined whether the planning and execution of a reach-to-grasp movement is susceptible to visuomotor priming, and whether the strength of the priming effect depends on the availability of visual feedback. Participants grasped a target object as quickly as possible with either a whole-hand grip or a precision grip upon hearing an auditory stimulus. Prior to the auditory cue, a prime stimulus was presented. The prime stimulus depicted an object that was either congruent, incongruent, or ambiguous with respect to the required grasp, or it showed no object at all. In addition, participants performed the grasping task in one of three vision conditions: participants' vision was either occluded during both the motor programming and online-control phase (no-vision), participants had vision only during the motor programming phase (partial-vision), or they had vision available throughout task performance (full-vision). Results revealed the presence of two discrete priming effects. First, we found a facilitative effect of congruent compared to incongruent prime-grip combinations that influenced reaction times and kinematic parameters. Second, we found that movements were initiated slower during the no prime compared to all other conditions. However, this effect did not affect movement kinematics. Importantly, the size of both effects was similar regardless of vision. Together, these results suggest that visuomotor priming effects exhibit a similar influence on memory-guided and visually guided actions, indicating the same underlying object representations for those actions, and thus further challenging the real-time view of motor programming. Furthermore, the two different priming effects suggest the presence of functionally distinct, yet related modules or processes related to action preparation and motor programming, and hint towards possible ventrodorsal interactions.

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