Perceiving objects by their function: An EEG study on feature saliency and prehensile affordances



Kourtis D & Vingerhoets G (2015) Perceiving objects by their function: An EEG study on feature saliency and prehensile affordances. Biological Psychology, 110, pp. 138-147.

We examined the feature saliency and prehensile/motor affordance effects that are visually elicited by a graspable object's most salient features and graspable part, respectively. EEG was recorded from participants who attended a photo of an object, and responded to a left- or right-pointing arrow, which was overlaid on the object 1000. ms after object onset. Analysis of response times demonstrated the presence of a feature saliency effect. Lateralization of posterior alpha suppression showed that attention was initially directed to the object's (most salient) functional end. Pre-movement frontocentral beta suppression and the modulation of the P3 component showed that a response compatible to the functional end was activated before arrow onset. Moreover, lateralization of pre-movement posterior and central alpha suppression indicated a behaviorally masked affordance effect. This suggests that the two effects may occur independently, but without specific attention orienting instructions, the feature saliency effect dominates a potential prehensile affordance effect.

Object perception; feature saliency effect; motor affordances; EEG; alpha oscillations; beta oscillations; P3;

Biological Psychology: Volume 110

Publication date30/09/2015
Publication date online03/08/2015
Date accepted by journal31/07/2015

People (1)


Dr Dimitrios Kourtis

Dr Dimitrios Kourtis

Lecturer, Psychology