On the cognitive control of hand actions for lifting and using an object

Date

2017-05-01

Authors

van Mook, Hannah

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Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that when performing reach-and-grasp actions on day-to-day objects, lift-actions are faster to execute relative to use-actions, and that a “use-on-lift” interference occurs and produces switch costs when changing actions from using to then lifting (Jax & Buxbaum, 2010; Osiurak & Badets, 2016). Such findings result from paradigms that include the sudden appearance of objects, requiring participants to react quickly to the features of the object, independent of the functionality of the objects. Because of the importance this topic has to day-to-day interactions with objects, the following four experiments were executed with objects continuously visible to participants. When imitating images of hand actions on objects, participants showed no differences in the initiation time of use- and lift-actions, suggesting that no systematic differences exist between these two actions. Using this as a baseline, we compared a more generative approach, as when actions are instructed by auditory sentences. In this case, we see that switching actions is difficult, switching objects is even more difficult, and that use-actions are modestly faster than lift-actions; the reverse of what previous research shows. In a third experiment modelled after the paradigm used in studies producing rapid lift- and slowed use-actions, we showed that use-actions are actually facilitating lift-actions. Further, we demonstrate that having a use-action goal in mind provides the knowledge required to perform a lift-action, and that use-actions are again faster than lift-actions. These results are a critical addition to the task-switching literature on the cognitive control of motor processes associated with hand actions as distinctions are made between non-naturalistic and realistic settings relevant to day-to-day interactions with objects. We show that use-actions facilitate lift-actions and that, in realistic settings, both use- and lift-actions require access to stored knowledge.

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Keywords

hand actions, motor movement, motor control, cognitive control, use-actions, lift-actions, task-switching, switch-costs

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