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Electrophysiological examination of embodiment in vision and action.
A wealth of behavioral data has shown that the visual properties of objects automatically potentiate motor actions linked with them, but how deeply are these affordances embedded in visual processing? In the study reported here, we used electrophysiological measures to examine the time course of affordance resulting from the leftward or rightward orientation of the handles of common objects. Participants were asked to categorize those objects using a left- or right-handed motor response. Lateralized readiness potentials showed rapid motor preparation in the hand congruent with the affordance provided by the object only 100 to 200 ms after stimulus presentation and up to 400 ms before the actual response. Examination of event-related potentials also revealed an effect of handle orientation and response-hand congruency on the visual P1 and N1 components. Both of these results suggest that activity in the early sensory pathways is modulated by the action associations of objects and the intentions of the viewer.