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Reaching beyond spatial perception: Effects of intended future actions on visually guided prehension

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Three experiments examined whether manipulating actors' intentions, regarding forthcoming actions, influences the time course and kinematics of visually guided, reach-to-grasp movements. Subjects performed two-step action sequences where the initial movement always involved reaching for and grasping cubes located at a constant distance. Demands of the second movement were systematically manipulated. Although the spatial parameters (cube size and distance) remained constant across all conditions, the durations of the initial movements differed substantially depending on the actions subjects intended to perform once the objects were in hand. Less time was required to engage a small (1 cm3) cube when the intention was to transport it to a new location on the workspace vs. a large (4 cm3) cube when the goal was to merely lift it above its current resting position (Experiment 1). This difference in duration of the initial movement reflects more time spent in the deceleration phase of the reach when the task does not require transporting the cube to a new location on the workspace. Further, this context effect is not related to accuracy demands (Experiment 2), or complexity (Experiment 3) of the intended second movement. These findings demonstrate that actions are determined both by the perceived spatial demands of the immediate movement as well as the intended goal of the entire action sequence.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA 2: Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA 3: Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA

Publication date: 2004-02-01

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