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Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(6):977-81. Epub 2005 Oct 21.

On the nature of near space: effects of tool use and the transition to far space.

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Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, 5848 S. University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Many researchers have proposed that the near space immediately surrounding the body is represented differently than more distant space. Indeed, it has often been suggested that near space encompasses that within arm's reach. The present study used a line bisection task in healthy adults to investigate the effects of tool use on space perception, and the nature of the transition between near and far space. Subjects bisected lines at four distances controlled for both veridical and angular size using a laser pointer and a set of sticks. When the laser pointer was used, a left to right shift in bias was observed as stimuli were moved from near to far space. When a tool was used, however, a leftward bias was observed at all distances, similar to that observed with the laser pointer in near space. These results suggest that the tool expanded the range of near space. Additionally, the transition from near to far space was gradual, with no abrupt shift at arm's length (or at any other distance). In contrast to theories describing near space as that within arm's reach, these findings suggest that the representation of near space is less rigid, extending with tool use and gradually transitioning into far space.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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