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Objects rapidly prime the motor system when located near the dominant hand

Rowe, P., Haenschel, C., Kosilo, M. & Yarrow, K. (2017). Objects rapidly prime the motor system when located near the dominant hand. Brain & Cognition, 113, pp. 102-108. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2016.11.005


Objects are said to automatically “afford” various actions depending upon the motor repertoire of the actor. Such affordances play a part in how we prepare to handle or manipulate tools and other objects. Evidence obtained through fMRI, EEG and TMS has proven that this is the case but, as yet, the temporal evolution of affordances has not been fully investigated. The aim here was to further explore the timing of evoked motor activity using visual stimuli tailored to drive the motor system. Therefore, we presented three kinds of stimuli in stereoscopic depth; whole hand grasp objects which afforded a power-grip, pinch-grip objects which afforded a thumb and forefinger precision-grip and an empty desk, affording no action. In order to vary functional motor priming while keeping visual stimulation identical, participants adopted one of two postures, with either the dominant or non-dominant hand forward. EEG data from 29 neurologically healthy subjects were analysed for the N1 evoked potential, observed in visual discrimination tasks, and for the N2 ERP component, previously shown to correlate with affordances (Proverbio, A.M., Adorni, R., D’Aniello, G.E., 2011. 250 ms to code for action affordance during observation of manipulable objects. Neuropsychologia 49, 2711–2717). We observed a link between ERPs, previously considered to reflect motor priming, and the positioning of the dominant hand. A significant interaction was detected in the left-hemisphere N2 between the participants’ posture and the object category they viewed. These results indicate strong affordance-related activity around 300ms after stimulus presentation, particularly when the dominant hand can easily reach an object.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Publisher Keywords: EEG; motor priming; dominant hand
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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