Infoscience

Journal article

Manipulable objects facilitate cross-modal integration in peripersonal space

Previous studies have shown that tool use often modifies one's peripersonal space - i.e. the space directly surrounding our body. Given our profound experience with manipulable objects (e.g. a toothbrush, a comb or a teapot) in the present study we hypothesized that the observation of pictures representing manipulable objects would result in a remapping of peripersonal space as well. Subjects were required to report the location of vibrotactile stimuli delivered to the right hand, while ignoring visual distractors superimposed on pictures representing everyday objects. Pictures could represent objects that were of high manipulability (e.g. a cell phone), medium manipulability (e.g. a soap dispenser) and low manipulability (e.g. a computer screen). In the first experiment, when subjects attended to the action associated with the objects, a strong cross-modal congruency effect (CCE) was observed for pictures representing medium and high manipulability objects, reflected in faster reaction times if the vibrotactile stimulus and the visual distractor were in the same location, whereas no CCE was observed for low manipulability objects. This finding was replicated in a second experiment in which subjects attended to the visual properties of the objects. These findings suggest that the observation of manipulable objects facilitates cross-modal integration in peripersonal space.

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