Consciousness and Cognition 7 (3):478-493 (1998)

In the present study, we addressed the problem of whether hand representations, derived from the control of hand gesture, are used in handedness recognition. Pictures of hands and fingers, assuming either common or uncommon postures, were presented to right-handed subjects, who were required to judge their handedness. In agreement with previous results (Parsons, 1987, 1994; Gentilucci, Daprati, & Gangitano, 1998), subjects recognized handedness through mental movement of their own hand in order to match the posture of the presented hand. This was proved by a control experiment of physical matching. The new finding was that presentation of common finger postures affected responses differently from presentation of less common finger postures. These effects could be not attributed to mental matching movements nor related to richness in hand-finger cues useful for handedness recognition. The results of the present study are discussed in the context of the notion that implicit visual analysis of the presented hands is performed before mental movement of one's hand takes place (Parsons, 1987; Gentilucci et al., 1998). In this process, hand representation acquired by experience in the control and observation of one's and other people's hand gestures is used. We propose that such an immediate recognition mechanism belongs to the class of mental processes which are grouped under the name of intuition, that is, the processes by which situations or people's intentions are immediately understood, without conscious reasoning.
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DOI 10.1006/ccog.1998.0368
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