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twitted on Feb 08, 2018 at 09:05

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Perceptual context and tools affordances

The Context of the visual scene actually affects affordances perception. Specifically, both spatial and thematic relations between the objects constituting an object-tool pair affect affordances perception and this is reflected by different visuospatial attentional patterns related to the overall scene and to the tool. When the Context facilitates affordances perception, the visual scene is encoded in a faster and more suited for action way. Indeed, the exploration focuses on the Manipulation part more than the Functional part of tools. Our findings are consistent with the perception-action theories and with the literature about the weight of the Context in the affordances perception. A cognitive interpretation of affordances perception is proposed.

In 1977 James J. Gibson first introduced the word "affordance" in order to refer to the action possibilities offered to an organism by the environment with reference to the organism?s action capabilities. While there is a general consensus on the automaticity of the affordances perception related to tools, evidence produced in literature have explored the mechanisms and the processes underlying the perception of affordances for object-tool pairs. These pairs were mainly used to experimentally manipulate the Context of the visual scene using pre-ordered categories of relation between objects (e.g., thematic, functional, spatial relations, etc.). Much less has been said about how and if the gaze behaviour is affected by the affordances perception. We devised a semantic-free experimental paradigm which allowed us to analyse by eye-tracking and for a large time window (1750ms) the gaze behaviour of participants seeing different kinds of visual scenes depicting single tools and object-tool pairs. Our results show that the Context of the visual scene actually affects affordances perception. Specifically, both spatial and thematic relations between the objects constituting an object-tool pair affect affordances perception and this is reflected by different visuospatial attentional patterns related to the overall scene and to the tool. When the Context facilitates affordances perception, the visual scene is encoded in a faster and more suited for action way. Indeed, the exploration focuses on the Manipulation part more than the Functional part of tools. Our findings are consistent with the perception-action theories and with the literature about the weight of the Context in the affordances perception.
Finally, a cognitive interpretation of affordances perception is proposed.


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