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October 2021

Thinking ahead: the case for motor imagery in prospective judgements of prehension

Journal/Book: Cognition. 2000; 74: PO Box 211, 1000 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands. Elsevier Science Bv. 33-70.

Abstract: How similar are judgements concerning how we expect to perform an action, to how we actually behave? The veracity of such prospective action judgements, and the mechanisms by which they are computed, was explored in a series of tasks that involved either grasping (MC conditions) or thinking about grasping (PJ conditions) a dowel presented in various orientations. PJs concerning limits of comfortable hand supination and pronation when turning a dowel in the picture plane were highly consistent with values obtained during actual hand rotation (Exp. 1). The same was true for judgements regarding the level of awkwardness involved in adopting a prescribed grip (e.g. Overhand with right hand) for dowels in various picture plane orientations (Exp. 2). When allowed to select the most natural grip (overhand versus underhand) or hand (left versus right) for engaging dowels in these orientations, subjects preferred virtually identical responses in both PJ and MC conditions. In both instances, they consistently chose the least awkward response options. As would be expected for actual movements, PJs involving awkward hand postures had longer response times (RTs), and were less accurate. Likewise, latencies for both grip and hand judgements tended to increase as a function of the angular distance between the current positions of subjects' hands, and the orientation of the chosen posture. Together, these findings are consistent with a the hypothesis that PJs involve mentally simulated actions, or motor imagery. These results suggest that motor imagery does not depend on the existence of a completed premotor plan (Jeannerod, 1994), but may instead be involved in the planning process itself. A provisional model for the involvement of imagery in motor planning is outlined, as are a set of criteria for evaluating claims of the involvement of motor imagery in problem solving.

Note: Article Johnson SH, Dartmouth Coll, Ctr Cognit Neurosci, 6162 Moore Hall, Hanover,NH 03755 USA

Keyword(s): motor imagery; prospective judgements; prehension; PREFERRED CRITICAL BOUNDARY; MENTAL REPRESENTATION; STIMULUS DIRECTION; HAND MOVEMENTS; OBJECTS; CONSTRAINTS; RECOGNITION; PERCEPTION; ACTIVATION; INTENTION


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