How Humans Optimize Their Interaction with the Environment: The Impact of Action Context on Human Perception

  • Agnieszka Wykowska
  • Alexis Maldonado
  • Michael Beetz
  • Anna Schubö
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 44)


Humans have developed various mechanisms to optimize interaction with the environment. Optimization of action planning requires efficient selection of action-relevant features. Selection might also depend on the environmental context in which an action takes place. The present study investigated how action context influences perceptual processing in action planning. The experimental paradigm comprised two independent tasks: (1) a perceptual visual search task and (2) a grasping or a pointing movement. Reaction times in the visual search task were measured as a function of the movement type (grasping vs. pointing) and context complexity (context varying along one dimension vs. context varying along two dimensions). Results showed that action context influenced reaction times, which suggests a close bidirectional link between action and perception as well as an impact of environmental action context on perceptual selection in the course of action planning. Such findings are discussed in the context of application for robotics.


Action Context Action Planning Human Perception 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bekkering, H., Neggers, S.F.W.: Visual search is modulated by action intentions. Psychological Science 13, 370–374 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Craighero, L., Fadiga, L., Rizzolatti, G., Umiltà, C.A.: Action for perception: a motor-visual attentional effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 25, 1673–1692 (1999)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fagioli, S., Hommel, B., Schubotz, R.I.: Intentional control of attention: Action planning primes action related stimulus dimensions. Psychological Research 71, 22–29 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Goodale, M.A., Milner, A.D.: Separate visual pathways for perception and action. Trends in Neurosciences 15, 20–25 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hommel, B., Müsseler, J., Aschersleben, G., Prinz, W.: The theory of event coding (TEC): A framework for perception and action planning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24, 849–937 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Humphreys, G.W., Riddoch, M.J.: Detection by action: neuropsychological evidence for action-defined templates in search. Nature Neuroscience 4, 84–89 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rizzolatti, G., Craighero, L.: The mirror-neuron system. Annual Review of Neuroscience 27, 169–192 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rossetti, Y., Pisella, L., Vighetto, A.: Optic ataxia revisited: visually guided action versus immediate visuomotor control. Experimental Brain Research 153, 171–179 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Schubotz, R.I., von Cramon, D.Y.: Predicting perceptual events activates corresponding motor schemes in lateral premotor cortex: An fMRI study. Neuroimage 15, 787–796 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sebanz, N., Bekkering, H., Knoblich, G.: Joint action: bodies and minds moving together. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10, 70–76 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Tucker, M., Ellis, R.: The potentiation of grasp types during visual object categorization. Visual Cognition 8, 769–800 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Turner, R.M.: The context-mediated behavior for intelligent agents. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 48, 307–330 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Wolpert, D.M., Kawato, M.: Multiple paired forward and inverse models for motor control. Neural Networks 11, 1317–1329 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wykowska, A., Schubö, A., Hommel, B.: How you move is what you see: Action planning biases selection in visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance (in press)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agnieszka Wykowska
    • 1
  • Alexis Maldonado
    • 2
  • Michael Beetz
    • 2
  • Anna Schubö
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyLudwig Maximilians UniversitätMünchenGermany
  2. 2.Computer Science Department, Chair IXTechnische UniversitätMünchenGermany

Personalised recommendations