Micro-affordances during lexical processing: considerations on the nature of object-knowledge representations
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Micro-affordance effects have been reported for several different components of the reach-to-grasp action during both on-line and off-line visual processing. The presence of such effects represents a strong demonstration of the close relationship between perception, action, and cognition. In this thesis 7 experiments are described, which investigate different aspects of that relationship, with particular attention on the nature of object representations. In 5 behavioural experiments as well as in 1 Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) experiment a stimulus-response compatibility paradigm is employed to examine the presence of micro-affordance effects arising during language processing of object names. The power and precision component of the reach-to-grasp action is investigated in relation to the compatibility of an object for grasping with either a power or a precision grasp. Overall, the results of the experiments discussed in the present thesis suggest that: a) object representations activated during language processing of object names are able to potentiate actions arising from the component of the reach-to-grasp action under investigation; b) such representations might be more semantic or „propositional‟ than depictive in nature, therefore more related to stored semantic knowledge of the object and its associated actions than to its detailed visual properties; c) this semantic information about objects seems to be automatically translated into specific motor activity, even in the absence of any intention to act; d) finally, such semantic, non-visual motor potentiation seems to be rapid and relatively short lived.