Prehension movements and perceived object depth structure

Research paper by Umberto Castiello, Claudia Bonfiglioli, Kerry Bennett

Indexed on: 01 Jun '98Published on: 01 Jun '98Published in: Perception & psychophysics


This study asked the question, “Will the motor pattern to a perceived two-dimensional (2-D) object differ from that same object when it is perceived as three dimensional (3-D)?” Subjects were required to reach and grasp an apple that could appear to be 2-D or 3-D. Two experimental sessions were conducted. In Condition A, the apple was initially perceived to be 2-D, but, for 20% of trials, it suddenly shifted to a 3-D apple at movement onset. In Condition B, the apple was initially perceived to be 3-D, but, for 20% of trials, it suddenly shifted to a 2-D silhouette of the same apple. For control trials, subjects grasped the perceived 2-D apple as if it were a disc (82%), and they grasped the 3-D apple, as they would a normal apple, with a whole-hand grasp (86%). For Condition A perturbed trials, there was a rapid change from a 2-D precision grip to a 3-D whole-hand prehension, whereas the converse was true for the opposite perturbation. Peak acceleration was anticipated for Condition A perturbed trials but not for Condition B perturbed trials. These results indicate that the motor patterns we use in interacting with an object are strongly influenced by the way we perceive the object in real time, and that object affordances, such as dimension, can override the influence exerted by existing representations.