Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Visual attention attuned to grabbable objects

17.03.2003


Dartmouth research group has found a new and unexpected way our attention can be grabbed – by grabbable objects. Their study, which appears in the March 17 advance online issue of Nature Neuroscience, demonstrates that objects we typically associate with grasping, such as screwdrivers, forks or pens, automatically attract our visual attention, especially if these items are on a person’s right-hand side.



In the brain, there are two primary visual pathways, one for identifying objects (perception) and one to guide your arms and legs based on what you see (action). To better understand how these two systems may interact, the Dartmouth team studied whether visual perception, specifically peripheral visual attention, influences motor systems in the brain.

"People have studied peripheral vision and how it helps perception, but nobody really talked about it in terms of helping action," says Todd C. Handy, the lead author and a research assistant professor at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Dartmouth. "There are certain things that we all know attract our attention, like flashing lights and loud noises. Yet, think about how often we grab things without directly looking at them. Now here’s evidence that, to help us do this, grabbable objects can literally grab our attention. There’s a clear association."


The researchers devised a simple test to measure this connection. They asked their subjects to look at a computer screen with two objects: one was something graspable, like a tool, the other was not graspable, like a cloud or a sailboat. After about a second, a set of horizontal bars flashed over one of the pictures. While concentrating in the center of the screen, the subjects were told to indicate whether the bars appeared on the left or right. The researchers determined where attention was focused when the bars flashed by measuring the electrical activity in the brain with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

"When the bars flashed over a graspable object, the EEG response in the visual cortex was more intense," says Handy. "It shows evidence of attention being specifically drawn to those objects. Interestingly, the effect was more profound when the tool was on the right. It suggests that attention is more strongly drawn to grabbable objects when they are on our right."

Handy’s team then used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), a method that precisely identifies areas of brain activity, to confirm their results. They found that when the tool appeared on the right, the brain’s classic motor areas responded to it. If the tool was on the left, the motor areas weren’t as active. According to Handy, this indicates that when graspable items are on the right, the motor system recognizes that there is something to grab and attention is drawn automatically to that location.

"People had already shown that simply viewing graspable objects activates motor areas in the brain," explains Handy. "What we didn’t know was that graspable items can affect visual attention, and that it matters where these things are in visual space."

The team is now trying to understand whether being right-handed or left-handed influences visual attention and motor activity.

Handy’s co-authors on the paper include Scott T. Grafton, professor of psychological and brain sciences and the Director of the Dartmouth Brain Imaging Center; Neha M. Shroff, Dartmouth alum from the Class of ’02; Sarah Ketay, research assistant; and Michael S. Gazzaniga, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Dartmouth and a professor of psychological and brain sciences.


This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>