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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54230. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054230. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Effects of pictorial cues on reaching depend on the distinctiveness of target objects.

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  • 1Division of Neuropsychology, Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research and Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany.


There is an ongoing debate under what conditions learned object sizes influence visuomotor control under preserved stereovision. Using meaningful objects (matchboxes of locally well-known brands in the UK) a previous study has nicely shown that the recognition of these objects influences action programming by means of reach amplitude and grasp pre-shaping even under binocular vision. Using the same paradigm, we demonstrated that short-term learning of colour-size associations was not sufficient to induce any visuomotor effects under binocular viewing conditions. Now we used the same matchboxes, for which the familiarity effect was shown in the UK, with German participants who have never seen these objects before. We addressed the question whether simply a high degree of distinctness, or whether instead actual prior familiarity of these objects, are required to affect motor computations. We found that under monocular and binocular viewing conditions the learned size and location influenced the amplitude of the reaching component significantly. In contrast, the maximum grip aperture remained unaffected for binocular vision. We conclude that visual distinctness is sufficient to form reliable associations in short-term learning to influence reaching even for preserved stereovision. Grasp pre-shaping instead seems to be less susceptible to such perceptual effects.

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