Peripheral vision for perception and action Academic Article uri icon


  • Anatomical and physiological evidence suggests that vision-for-perception and vision-for-action may be differently sensitive to increasingly peripheral stimuli, and to stimuli in the upper and lower visual fields (VF). We asked participants to fixate one of 24 randomly presented LED arranged radially in eight directions and at three eccentricities around a central target location. One of two (small, large) target objects was presented briefly, and participants responded in two ways. For the action task, they reached for and grasped the target. For the perception task, they estimated target height by adjusting thumb-finger separation. In a final set of trials for each task, participants knew that target size would remain constant. We found that peak aperture increased with eccentricity for grasping, but not for perceptual estimations of size. In addition, peak grip aperture, but not size-estimation aperture, was more variable when targets were viewed in the upper as opposed to the lower VF. A second experiment demonstrated that prior knowledge about object size significantly reduced the variability of perceptual estimates, but had no effect on the variability of grip aperture. Overall, these results support the claim that peripheral VF stimuli are processed differently for perception and action. Moreover, they support the idea that the lower VF is specialized for the control of manual prehension. Finally, the effect of prior knowledge about target size on performance substantiates claims that perception is more tightly linked to memory systems than action.

publication date

  • August 2005