Haptic Over Visual Information in the Distribution of Visual Attention After Tool-Use in Near and Far Space

Student Co-author

CGU Graduate

Document Type



Psychology (CMC)

Publication Date



Despite attentional prioritization for grasping space near the hands, tool-use appears to transfer attentional bias to the tool’s end/functional part. The contributions of haptic and visual inputs to attentional distribution along a tool were investigated as a function of tool-use in near (Experiment 1) and far (Experiment 2) space. Visual attention was assessed with a 50/50, go/no-go, target discrimination task, while a tool was held next to targets appearing near the tool-occupied hand or tool-end. Target response times (RTs) and sensitivity (d-prime) were measured at target locations, before and after functional tool practice for three conditions: (1) open-tool: tool-end visible (visual + haptic inputs), (2) hidden-tool: tool-end visually obscured (haptic input only), and (3) short-tool: stick missing tool’s length/end (control condition: hand occupied but no visual/haptic input). In near space, both open- and hidden-tool groups showed a tool-end, attentional bias (faster RTs toward tool-end) before practice; after practice, RTs near the hand improved. In far space, the open-tool group showed no bias before practice; after practice, target RTs near the tool-end improved. However, the hidden-tool group showed a consistent tool-end bias despite practice. Lack of short-tool group results suggested that hidden-tool group results were specific to haptic inputs. In conclusion, (1) allocation of visual attention along a tool due to tool practice differs in near and far space, and (2) visual attention is drawn toward the tool’s end even when visually obscured, suggesting haptic input provides sufficient information for directing attention along the tool.

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© 2015 Springer-Verlag