Poster A123, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Becoming a Martian archeologist: Motor interference affects conceptual judgments of learned vs. unlearned tools
Heath Matheson1, Sharon L. Thompson-Schill1; 1Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Theories of embodied cognition propose that we recognize tools in part by reactivating sensorimotor representations of tool use. If motor representations play a causal role in tool recognition then performing a concurrent motor task should differentially modulate recognition of experienced vs. non-experienced tools. We sought to test the hypothesis that motor interference modulates conceptual processing of learned vs. non-learned objects by directly manipulating the motor experience of participants. To do so, we trained one group to use a set of novel, 3-D printed tools under the pretense that they were preparing for an archeological expedition to Mars; we trained a second group to report declarative information about how the tools are stored. With this design, familiarity and visual attention to different object parts was similar for both groups, though their qualitative interactions differed. After learning, participants made familiarity judgments of auditorily presented tool names while performing a concurrent motor task or simply sitting at rest. A reliable albeit modest interaction suggests that a concurrent motor task modulates familiarity judgments differently for the two groups, especially for unfamiliar objects. These results show that manipulation experience differentially influences conceptual processing of familiar vs. unfamiliar objects, suggesting that motor representations contribute to recognizing tools.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Semantic