Objects with motor valence affect the visual processing of human body parts: Evidence from behavioural and ERP studies

Caggiano, Pietro; Grossi, Giordana; Carlacci De Mattia, Lucilla; Van Velzen, Jose L. and Cocchini, Gianna. 2022. Objects with motor valence affect the visual processing of human body parts: Evidence from behavioural and ERP studies. Cortex, 153, pp. 194-206. ISSN 0010-9452 [Article]

No full text available
[img] Text
CORTEX-D-21-00679R2 - Manuscript_Final.pdf - Accepted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only until 17 May 2023.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (875kB)

Abstract or Description

Recent findings indicate that the mental representation of an object contains crucial information about the motor interactions relevant for its intended functional use, suggesting a possible action-specific link with body effectors. For example, in the visual system, the extrastriate body area (EBA) responds to full body and body part images according to a functional/semantic organizational principle. However, the pliancy of the relationship between objects and body parts remains under-investigated. The present study aims to i) investigate this relationship more directly by assessing whether recognition of specific body parts can be facilitated by a brief exposure to functionally-related objects (Experiment 1) and ii) whether the functional relationship between objects and body parts modulates a posterior body-sensitive ERP waveform, peaking around 200 ms, and the more centro-parietal P300, linked to item categorization processes and visual awareness (Experiment 2). Participants were asked to quickly recognize targets (pictures of hands or feet) preceded by a functionally related (e.g., drum for hand target), unrelated (e.g., drum for foot target), or neutral (e.g., unknown object for both targets) prime. Findings showed that participants’ performance was significantly more accurate with related than unrelated primes and that ERP amplitudes were modulated by the relationship between the prime and the target. These findings confirm the existence of action-specific links between objects and body parts and expand on recent findings on categorical organization of neural responses to human effectors in the visual system.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Additional Information:

The conditions stated in the informed consent form and ethics approval do not permit public archiving of data. Readers seeking access to the datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study should contact the corresponding author. Access will be granted to named individuals. There are no further conditions.


body representation, visual perception, EBA, action, ERP

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Centre for Cognition, Computation and Culture (CCCC)


14 April 2022Accepted
8 June 2022Published Online
August 2022Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Apr 2022 08:31

Last Modified:

16 Jun 2022 13:54

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)