This article reviews experimental evidence for a specific sensorimotor function which can be dissociated from higher level representations of space. It attempts to delineate this function on the basis of results obtained by psychophysical experiments performed with brain damaged and healthy subjects. Eye and hand movement control exhibit automatic features, such that they are incompatible with conscious control. In addition, they rely on a reference frame different from the one used by conscious perception. Neuropsychological cases provide a strong support for (...) this specific motor representation of space, which can be spared in patients with lesions of primary sensory systems who have lost conscious perception of visual, tactile or proprioceptive stimuli. Observation of these patients also showed that their motor behavior can be ''attracted'' by a goal only under specific conditions, that is, when the response is immediate and when no cognitive representation of this goal is elaborated at the same time. Beyond the issue of the dissociation between an implicit motor representation and more cognitive processing of spatial information, the issue of the interaction between these two systems is thus a matter of interest. It is suggested that the conscious, cognitive representation of a stimulus can contaminate or override the short-lived motor representation, but no reciprocal influence seem to occur. The interaction observed in patients can also be investigated in normals. The literature provides examples of interaction between sensorimotor and cognitive framing of space, which confirm that immediate action is not mediated by the same system as delayed action, and that elaborating a categorial representation of the action goal prevents the expression of the short-lived sensorimotor representation. It is concluded that action can be controlled by a sensory system which is specialized for on-line processing of relevant goal characteristics. The temporal constraints of this system are such that it can affect the action before a full sensory analysis of this goal has been completed. The performance obtained on the basis of this spatial sensory processing suggests that short-lived motor representations may rather be considered as real ''presentation'' of the action world, which share its metric properties. (shrink)
Philosophical considerations as well as several recent studies from neurophysiology, neuropsychology, and psychophysics converged in showing that the peripersonal space is structured in a body-centred manner and represented through integrated sensory inputs. Multisensory representations may deserve the function of coding peripersonal space for avoiding or interacting with objects. Neuropsychological evidence is reviewed for dynamic interactions between space representations and action execution, as revealed by the behavioural effects that the use of a tool, as a physical extension of the reachable space, (...) produces on visual–tactile extinction. In particular, tool-use transiently modifies action space representation in a functionally effective way. The possibility is discussed that the investigation of multisensory space representations for action provides an empirical way to consider in its specificity pre-reflexive self-consciousness by considering the intertwining of self-relatedness and object-directness of spatial experience shaped by multisensory and sensorimotor integrations. (shrink)
A further step in Pylyshyn's discontinuity thesis is to examine the penetrability of haptic (tactual-kinesthetic) perception. The study of the perception of orientation and the “oblique effect” (lower performance in oblique orientations than in vertical–horizontal orientations) in the visual and haptic modalities allows this question to be discussed. We suggest that part of the visual process generating the visual oblique effect is cognitively impenetrable, whereas all haptic processes generating the haptic oblique effect are cognitively penetrable.
The originality of Glenberg's theoretical account lies in the claim that memory works in the service of physical interaction with the three-dimensional world. Little consideration is given, however, to the role of memory in action. We present and discuss data on spatial memory for action. These empirical data constitute the first step of reasoning about the link between memory and action, and allow several aspects of Glenberg's theory to be tested.
Prism Adaptation is a useful method to study the mechanisms of sensorimotor adaptation. After-effects following adaptation to the prismatic deviation constitute the probe that adaptive mechanisms occurred, and current evidence suggests an involvement of the cerebellum at this level. Whether after-effects are transferable to another task is of great interest both for understanding the nature of sensorimotor transformations and for clinical purposes. However, the processes of transfer and their underlying neural substrates remain poorly understood. Transfer from throwing to pointing is (...) known to occur only in individuals who had previously reached a good level of expertise in throwing, not in novices. The aim of this study was to ascertain whether anodal stimulation of the cerebellum could boost after-effects transfer from throwing to pointing in novice participants. Healthy participants received anodal or sham transcranial direction current stimulation of the right cerebellum during a PA procedure involving a throwing task and were tested for transfer on a pointing task. Terminal errors and kinematic parameters were in the dependent variables for statistical analyses. Results showed that active stimulation had no significant beneficial effects on error reduction or throwing after-effects. Moreover, the overall magnitude of transfer to pointing did not change. Interestingly, we found a significant effect of the stimulation on the longitudinal evolution of pointing errors and on pointing kinematic parameters during transfer assessment. These results provide new insights on the implication of the cerebellum in transfer and on the possibility to use anodal tDCS to enhance cerebellar contribution during PA in further investigations. From a network approach, we suggest that cerebellum is part of a more complex circuitry responsible for the development of transfer which is likely embracing the primary motor cortex due to its role in motor memories consolidation. This paves the way for further work entailing multiple-sites stimulation to explore the role of M1-cerebellum dynamic interplay in transfer. (shrink)
A visual analogue, two-route model of somatosensory processing is advanced in this commentary. Touch for perception is seen as separate from, although interconnected with, touch for action. Separate modules are additionally proposed for internal (body) and external (object-related) somatosensation. Here we ask whether dissociation (divide) guarantees better efficiency (impera) in terms of the heuristic model within the somatosensory modality and across modalities.
Dienes & Perner's (D&P's) target articles proposes an analysis of explicit knowledge based on a progressive transformation of implicit into explicit products, applying this gradient to different aspects of knowledge that can be represented. The goal is to integrate a philosophical concept of knowledge with relevant psychophysical and neuropsychological data. D&P seem to fill an impressive portion of the gap between these two areas. We focus on two examples where a full synthesis of theoretical and empirical data seems difficult to (...) establish and would require further refinement of the model: action representation and the closely related consciousness of action, which is in turn related to self-consciousness. (shrink)
Is there any ecological purpose in assuming that perception for action exists only through a global array of energy? Unlike Stoffregen & Bardy, who assume that behavior consists of movements, we would argue that behavior consists of a stable coupling between perception and action achieved through experience in an adaptive context. Determining target position in an aiming manual task and temporal control of impact movement illustrate that patterns of energy used for action are task-dependent.
The concept of a conservative control strategy minimizing the number of degrees of freedom used is criticised with reference to 3-D simple reaching and grasping experiments. The vector error in a redundant system would not be the prime controlled variable, but rather the posture for reaching, as exemplified by nearly straight displacements in joint space as opposed to curved ones in task space.
Some data concerning visual illusions are hardly compatible with the perception–action model, assuming that only the perception system is influenced by visual context. The planning–control dichotomy offers an alternative that better accounts for some controversy in experimental data. We tested the two models by submitting the patient I. G. to the induced Roelofs effect. The similitude of the results of I. G. and control subjects favoured Glover's model, which, however, presents a paradox that needs to be clarified.
Plamondon's kinematic theory is very powerful from a descriptive point of view. Unfortunately, the fact that it neglects some fundamental features of the motor system, such as nonlinear inertial torque interactions or joint redundancies, limits its explanatory power and biological validity. As a consequence, the data presented by Plamondon & Alimi should be analyzed and interpreted with caution. There appears to be a gap between the observations reported by the authors and some of the conclusions they draw.