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Cogn Process. 2012 Aug;13 Suppl 1:S215-8. doi: 10.1007/s10339-012-0452-1.

The role of attention in the affordance effect: can we afford to ignore it?

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Department of Cognitive Science and Psychology, New Bulgarian University, 21 Montevideo Blvd., 1618, Sofia, Bulgaria.


It has been established that the task-irrelevant orientation of an object's graspable handle produces a stimulus-response compatibility effect, resulting in faster reaction times when the location of the response corresponds to that of the object's handle. There is ongoing debate whether to attribute this affordance effect to motoric or to attentional components. In an attempt to reconcile these two viewpoints, we employed a novel experimental approach for investigating the relationship between attention and affordance. Using 3-D positional sound, auditory spatial attention was manipulated in order to explore its effects on affordance. Subjects were presented images of everyday graspable objects and had to respond bimanually (left or right) whether the object (featuring a leftward or rightward handle) was presented upright or upside-down. Prior to each affording object, sound localization cues were manipulated so as to orient auditory attention to the left, or to the right of the interaural axis (control). We obtained a peculiar pattern of results, which not only appears to provide support for an attention-shift account of affordance but does so in a cross-modal context.

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