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Action Observation Influences Perception: fMRI and ERP Evidence for a Functional Role of Action Representations in Visual Object Recognition

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Helbig,  H
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kiefer, M., Sim, E.-J., Helbig, H., & Graf, M. (2012). Action Observation Influences Perception: fMRI and ERP Evidence for a Functional Role of Action Representations in Visual Object Recognition. Poster presented at 52nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, New Orleans, LA, USA.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-9C5B-A
Abstract
Perception for action and object recognition are traditionally assumed to depend on distinct brain areas. However, action priming studies showed that action representations facilitate object recognition, suggesting an interaction between dorsal and ventral visual streams. The present study aimed at further elucidating the role of action representations in visual object recognition using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potentials (ERPs). Short movies showing hands performing an action in interaction with an object (where the object itself was always removed from the video) were shown as primes. The prime movie was followed by a target object affording motor interactions that are either similar (congruent condition) or dissimilar (incongruent condition) to the prime action. Participants had to decide whether an object name shown after the target picture corresponds with the picture or not. At a behavioral level, we found superior accuracy for prime-target pairs with congruent as compared to incongruent actions (action priming). At a neural level, action priming was associated with reduced activity in a network of parietal and frontal motor regions starting at about 100 ms after target onset. These findings demonstrate that the action priming effect in object recognition arises from rapid access to action representations in motor areas. In line with embodiment theories of conceptual memory, this suggests that knowledge about potential interactions with objects can influence their recognition within the first 100 ms of perceptual processing.