Press to grasp: how action dynamics shape object categorization
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Action and object are deeply linked to each other. Not only can viewing an object influence an ongoing action, but motor representations of action can also influence visual categorization of objects. It is tempting to assume that this influence is effector-specific. However, there is indirect evidence suggesting that this influence may be related to the action goal and not just to the effector involved in achieving it. This paper aimed, for the first time, to tackle this issue directly. Participants were asked to categorize different objects in terms of the effector (e.g. hand or foot) typically used to act upon them. The task was delivered before and after a training session in which participants were instructed either just to press a pedal with their foot or to perform the same foot action with the goal of guiding an avatar’s hand to grasp a small ball. Results showed that pressing a pedal to grasp a ball influenced how participants correctly identified graspable objects as hand-related ones, making their responses more uncertain than before the training. Just pressing a pedal did not have any similar effect. This is evidence that the influence of action on object categorization can be goal-related rather than effector-specific.