On the Relation of Action and Perception

25. Mai 2010


Rising interest in theories of embodiment highlight the need to better understand the relation of action and conscious perception.
Specifically, we investigate the concept that the quality of sensory awareness is determined by systematic change of afferent signals resulting from behaviour and knowledge thereof. In a first step we formalize two competing hypotheses action-precedes-perception and action-follows-perception and test these measureing eye-movements and pupil diameter in human subjects viewing ambiguous and disambiguated stimuli. Results provide evidence for the action-precedes-perception hypothesis and no causal role of conscious perception could be uncovered. Next, we investigate sensory enhancement by a feelSpace belt
in a congenitally blind subject. Consistent with an earlier report improved behavioural performance and perceptual effects could be induced. However, unsupervised training by itself was not sufficient, and explicit instructions and training was necessary to ground the qualitatively new signals and provide associations with the available senses. Finally, a short report is given on current investigation of cortical plasticiy upon extended training with the feelSpace belt. In summary, the presented experiments argue for a constitutive role of action in the formation of perception, although in some aspects it was dependent on available cognitive resources.