Visual processing at goal and effector locations is dynamically enhanced during motor preparation.

Mason, Luke; Linnell, Karina J; Davis, Robert and Van Velzen, Jose L.. 2015. Visual processing at goal and effector locations is dynamically enhanced during motor preparation. Neuroimage, 117, pp. 243-249. ISSN 1053-8119 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Previous theoretical and experimental works has shown that preparing to act causes enhanced perceptual processing at movement-relevant locations. Up until now, this has focused almost exclusively on the goal of an action, neglecting the role of the effector. We addressed this by measuring changes in visual processing across time during motor preparation at both goal and effector locations.

We compared event related potentials (ERPs) elicited by task-irrelevant visual probe stimuli at both goal and effector locations during motor preparation. Participants were instructed to place their hands on two starting positions (effector locations) and an auditory tone instructed them to immediately move to one of two target buttons (goal locations). Probe stimuli were presented in the interval between the offset of the cue and the execution of the movement at either a goal or an effector location. Probes were presented randomly at either 100ms, 200ms or 300ms after the auditory cue.

Analysis of the visual N1 ERP showed enhanced visual processing at moving vs. not-moving goal locations across all three SOAs. At effector locations, enhanced processing for the moving vs. not-moving effector was only observed during the middle (200ms) SOA.

These results demonstrate, for the first time, simultaneous perceptual enhancement of goal and effector locations during motor preparation. We interpret these results as reflecting a temporally and spatially specific dynamic attentional map of the environment that adapts to maximise efficiency of movement by selectively weighting processing of multiple functional components of action in parallel.

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This research was partially supported by an award from the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) (ERC grant agreement no. 241242).


action, perception, planning, preparation, effector, goal

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24 May 2015Accepted
30 May 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

09 Jun 2015 14:51

Last Modified:

21 Feb 2019 16:38

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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