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Eyes versus hands: how perceived stimuli influence motor actions

Many studies showed that biological (e.g., gaze-shifts or hand movements) and non-biological stimuli (e.g., arrows or moving points) redirect attention. Biological stimuli seem to be more suitable than non-biological to perform this task. However, the question remains if biological stimuli do have different influences on redirecting attention and if this property is dependent on how we react to those stimuli.
In two separate experiments, participants interact either with a biological or a non-biological stimulus (experiment 1), or with two biological stimuli (gaze-shifts, hand movements; experiment 2) to which they responded with two different actions (saccade, button press), either in a congruent or incongruent manner.
Results from experiment 1 suggest that interacting with the biological stimulus lead to faster responses, compared to the non-biological stimulus, independent of the response type.
Results from experiment 2 show longer reaction times when the depicted stimulus was not matching the response type (e.g., reacting with hand movements to a moving object or gaze-shift) compared to a matching condition, while especially the gaze-following condition (reacting with a gaze shift to a perceived gaze shift) led to the fastest responses (see Figure).
These results suggest that redirecting attention is not only dependent on the perceived stimulus but also on the way how those stimuli are responded to.

Geiger 2017


Geiger, A., Nießen, E., Bente, G., & Vogeley, K. (2017). Eyes versus hands: how perceived stimuli influence motor actions. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0180780

Correspondence to:

Alexander Geiger