Grasping and perception are both affected by irrelevant information and secondary tasks: New evidence from the Garner paradigm

Miriam Löhr-Limpens (Corresponding Author), Frederic Göhringer, Thomas Schenk, Constanze Hesse

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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In their Perception-Action Model (PAM), Goodale and Milner (1992) proposed functionally independent and encapsulated processing of visual information for action and perception. In this context, they postulated that visual input for action is processed in an automatized and analytic manner, which renders visuomotor behaviour immune to perceptual interferences or multitasking costs due to sharing of cognitive resources. Here, we investigate the well-known Garner Interference effect under dual- and single-task conditions in its classic perceptual form as well as in grasping. Garner Interference arises when stimuli are classified along a relevant dimension (e.g., their length), while another irrelevant dimension (e.g., their width) has to be ignored. In the present study, participants were presented with differently sized rectangular objects and either grasped them or classified them as long or short via button-presses. We found classical Garner Interference effects in perception as expressed in prolonged reaction times when variations occurred also in the irrelevant object dimension. While reaction times during grasping were not susceptible to Garner Interference, effects were observed in a number of measures that reflect grasping accuracy (i.e., poorer adjustment of grip aperture to object size, prolonged adjustment times, and increased variability of the maximum hand opening when irrelevant object dimensions were varied). In addition, multitasking costs occurred in both perception and action tasks. Thus, our findings challenge the assumption of automaticity in visuomotor behaviour as proposed by the PAM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1269-1283
Number of pages15
JournalPsychological Research
Early online date16 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was supported by the DFG Priority Program SPP 1772 concerning multitasking “Human performance under multiple cognitive task requirements: From basic mechanisms to optimized task scheduling” (DFG/SCHE 735/2-1) awarded to Thomas Schenk. We would like to thank Laura Koroknai for her assistance with data collection.


  • Perception-Action Model
  • Dorsal stream
  • Ventral stream
  • Garner Interference
  • Multitasking
  • Grasping


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