Grab it! Biased Attention in Functional Hand and Tool Space

Document Type



Psychology (CMC)

Publication Date



This study explored whether functional properties of the hand and tools influence the allocation of spatial attention. In four experiments that used a visual-orienting paradigm with predictable lateral cues, hands or tools were placed near potential target locations. Results showed that targets appearing in the hand’s grasping space (i.e., near the palm) and the rake’s raking space (i.e., near the prongs) produced faster responses than did targets appearing to the back of the hand, to the back of the rake, or near the forearm. Validity effects were found regardless of condition in all experiments, but they did not interact with the target-in-grasping/raking-space bias. Thus, the topology of the facilitated space around the hand is, in part, defined by the hand’s grasping function and can be flexibly extended by functional experience using a tool. These findings are consistent with the operation of bimodal neurons, and this embodied component is incorporated into a neurally based model of spatial attention.

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© 2010 Psychonomic Society, Inc.