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Psychologist poses new hand-eye relationship
Date:7/11/2008

Psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis, led by Richard A. Abrams, Ph.D., professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences, have shown that to see objects better, you should take the matter into your own hands.

They have demonstrated that humans more thoroughly inspect objects when their hands are near the object rather than farther away from it. They posit that this processing exists because humans need to be able to analyze objects near their hands, to figure out how to handle them or to provide protection against them.

Recognizing that the location of your hands influences what you see is a new insight into the wiring of the brain, one that could lead to rethinking current rehabilitative therapy techniques and prosthetic design. For a stroke victim trying to regain use of a paralyzed arm, just placing the good arm next to the desired object could help the injured arm grasp it. Likewise, prosthetics could be redesigned to account for additional information flow from the hand to the brain, rather than just the brain controlling the spatial location of the prosthetic, as in today's prosthetics.

"This is the first experiment to investigate the effect of hand position on response time for a visual search task," said Abrams. "In all previous visual search experiments, subjects viewed stimuli on a display and responded by manipulating buttons on a table, where their hands were far from the stimuli. In our experiment, the subjects responded using buttons attached to the display so that their hands were next to the stimuli."

These response times were compared with those from a typical experiment where the subjects responded by pushing buttons that were far from the display, he added.

Results were published in the June issue of Cognition.

'Mind's eye'

Using an experiment called visual search, the researchers had subjects look through four or eight letters on a computer monitor, s
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Contact: Richard Abrams
rabrams@wustl.edu
314-935-6538
Washington University in St. Louis
Source:Eurekalert

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