Location-Coding Account Versus Affordance-Activation Account in Handle-to-Hand Correspondence Effects: Evidence of Simon-Like Effects Based on the Coding of Action Direction

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Abstract

An increasing number of studies have shown a close link between perception and action, which is supposed to be responsible for the automatic activation of actions compatible with objects’ properties, such as the orientation of their graspable parts. It has been observed that left and right hand responses to objects (e.g., cups) are faster and more accurate if the handle orientation corresponds to the response location than when it does not. Two alternative explanations have been proposed for this handle-to-hand correspondence effect: location coding and affordance activation. The aim of the present study was to provide disambiguating evidence on the origin of this effect by employing object sets for which the visually salient portion was separated from, and opposite to the graspable 1, and vice versa. Seven experiments were conducted employing both single objects and object pairs as visual stimuli to enhance the contextual information about objects’ graspability and usability. Notwithstanding these manipulations intended to favor affordance activation, results fully supported the location-coding account displaying significant Simon-like effects that involved the orientation of the visually salient portion of the object stimulus and the location of the response. Crucially, we provided evidence of Simon-like effects based on higher-level cognitive, iconic representations of action directions rather than based on lower-level spatial coding of the pure position of protruding portions of the visual stimuli.

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