25 May 2022: How does action training affect perception and cognition?

Joo-Hyun Song
Department of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences
Brown University

Our daily experience can be thought of as a sequence of acquiring perceptual input to make decisions, then planning and executing appropriate actions. Hence, examining the influence of perception on action flows logically. Investigating the inverse may seem unusual. However, in a series of studies, we have accumulated evidence supporting co-dependence between action and perception. First, we demonstrated that simultaneous easy-action preparation or even prior action training can enhance sensitivity to an action-relevant low-level visual property, such as orientation. This newly-observed modulation of visual perception by action fluency cannot be explained by the traditional sequence of information processing stages. In addition, we discovered that improvement of motor timing enhances the sensitivity of time perception, even for implicit timing patterns inherent to a complex motor task. We interpret this as evidence for a shared temporal mechanism between perception and movement, regardless of the rhythmicity or complexity of the motor tasks. Furthermore, we found that learning a visuomotor rotation, but not actions without a rotation component, facilitated response time on a subsequent mental rotation task. This result suggests that visuomotor learning can enhance mental processes through common components. Taken together, our work supports a close interplay between the action system and perception, which highlights the necessity of an integrated approach to understand our adaptive behavior in a complex environment. The integrated approach would allow us to investigate a range of broader questions that would have not been possible by studying the motor system alone or vision alone.

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