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Exp Brain Res. 2011 Mar;209(2):257-69. doi: 10.1007/s00221-011-2544-z. Epub 2011 Jan 30.

Improved change detection with nearby hands.

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Psychology Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, SS2, Rm 277, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.


Recent studies have suggested altered visual processing for objects that are near the hands. We present three experiments that test whether an observer's hands near the display facilitate change detection. While performing the task, observers placed both hands either near or away from the display. When their hands were near the display, change detection performance was more accurate and they held more items in visual short-term memory (experiment 1). Performance was equally improved for all regions across the entire display, suggesting a stronger attentional engagement over all visual stimuli regardless of their relative distances from the hands (experiment 2). Interestingly, when only one hand was placed near the display, we found no facilitation from the left hand and a weak facilitation from the right hand (experiment 3). Together, these data suggest that the right hand is the main source of facilitation, and both hands together produce a nonlinear boost in performance (superadditivity) that cannot be explained by either hand alone. In addition, the presence of the right hand biased observers to attend to the right hemifield first, resulting in a right-bias in change detection performance (experiments 2 and 3).

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