When perception intrudes on 2D grasping: evidence from Garner interference

  • Tzvi GanelEmail author
  • Aviad Ozana
  • Melvyn A. Goodale
Original Article


When participants reach out to pick up a real 3-D object, their grip aperture reflects the size of the object well before contact is made. At the same time, the classical psychophysical laws and principles of relative size and shape that govern visual perception do not appear to intrude into the control of such movements, which are instead tuned only to the relevant dimension for grasping. In contrast, accumulating evidence suggests that grasps directed at flat 2D objects are not immune to perceptual effects. Thus, in 2D but not 3D grasping, the aperture of the fingers has been shown to be affected by relative and contextual information about the size and shape of the target object. A notable example of this dissociation comes from studies of Garner interference, which signals holistic processing of shape. Previous research has shown that 3D grasping shows no evidence for Garner interference but 2D grasping does (Freud & Ganel, 2015). In a recent study published in this journal (Löhr-Limpens et al., 2019), participants were presented with 2D objects in a Garner paradigm. The pattern of results closely replicated the previously published results with 2D grasping. Unfortunately, the authors, who appear to be unaware the potential differences between 2D and 3D grasping, used their findings to draw an overgeneralized and unwarranted conclusion about the relation between 3D grasping and perception. In this short methodological commentary, we discuss current literature on aperture shaping during 2D grasping and suggest that researchers should play close attention to the nature of the target stimuli they use before drawing conclusions about visual processing for perception and action.



This paper was supported by an Israel Science Foundation (ISF) Grant 274/15 to Tzvi Ganel and to Daniel Algom.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Tzvi Ganel declares that he has no conflict of interest. Aviad Ozana declares that he has no conflict of interest. Melvyn A. Goodale declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael
  2. 2.The Brain and Mind InstituteThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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