No evidence for visuomotor priming in a visually guided action task Conference Paper uri icon


  • Craighero et al. showed that grasping movements were initiated more quickly when the goal object shared the same orientation as a previously seen 'prime' object. Because the goal object was never visible in these experiments, however, it is unclear whether the data should be construed as evidence for a general visuomotor priming effect (as the authors contend), or only as evidence for a more specific priming effect on memory-guided actions. In Experiment 1, we demonstrated that memory-guided but not visually guided grasping can be primed by passive viewing of a prime object. In Experiment 2, we compared the effects of a prime object on the grasping and naming of a visible target object. Participants were faster to name the target when its shape was the same as the prime, consistent with well-established perceptual priming effects. Under the identical set of testing parameters, however, reaction time for grasping was unaffected by the orientation or the shape of the prime. In Experiment 3, participants grasped the goal object after either viewing or grasping a prime object. Reaction time for grasping was unaffected by the visual features of the prime in both tasks. Taken together, these results are consistent with the view that perceptual memory -- which presumably underlies visual priming effects -- is largely irrelevant for programming the metrics of actions to visible objects. Visually guided actions are programmed in real-time by dedicated visuomotor modules that appear to be insensitive to the priming effects that are a hallmark of visual perception.

publication date

  • January 2005