The influence of motor preparation on the processing of action-relevant visual features

Job, Xavier; Golemme, Mara; Bhattacharya, Joydeep; Cappelletti, Marinella; De Fockert, J. W. and Van Velzen, Jose L.. 2019. The influence of motor preparation on the processing of action-relevant visual features. Scientific Reports, 9, 11084. ISSN 2045-2322 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Action preparation can facilitate performance in tasks of visual perception, for instance by speeding up responses to action-relevant stimulus features. However, it is unknown whether this facilitation reflects an influence on early perceptual processing, or instead post-perceptual processes. In three experiments, a combination of psychophysics and electroencephalography was used to investigate whether visual features are influenced by action preparation at the perceptual level. Participants were cued to prepare oriented reach-to-grasp actions before discriminating target stimuli oriented in the same direction as the prepared grasping action (congruent) or not (incongruent). As expected, stimuli were discriminated faster if their orientation was congruent, compared to incongruent, with the prepared action. However, action-congruency had no influence on perceptual sensitivity, regardless of cue-target interval and discrimination difficulty. The reaction time effect was not accompanied by modulations of early visual-evoked potentials. Instead, beta-band (13-30Hz) synchronization over sensorimotor brain regions was influenced by action preparation, indicative of improved response preparation. Together, the results suggest that action preparation may not modulate early visual processing of orientation, but likely influences higher order response or decision related processing. While early effects of action on spatial perception are well documented, separate mechanisms appear to govern non-spatial feature selection.

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This work was supported by a doctoral studentship awarded to X.J. by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK. The experiments reported here also feature in the doctoral thesis of X.J. (

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19 July 2019Accepted
31 July 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

26 Jul 2019 08:11

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04 Aug 2021 10:16

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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