Priorities for selection and representation in natural tasks

Benjamin William Tatler*, Yoriko Hirose, Sarah K. Finnegan, Riina Pievilainen, Clare Kirtley, Alan Kennedy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Selecting and remembering visual information is an active and competitive process. In natural environments, representations are tightly coupled to task. Objects that are task-relevant are remembered better due to a combination of increased selection for fixation and strategic control of encoding and/or retaining viewed information. However, it is not understood how physically manipulating objects when performing a natural task influences priorities for selection and memory. In this study, we compare priorities for selection and memory when actively engaged in a natural task with first-person observation of the same object manipulations. Results suggest that active manipulation of a task-relevant object results in a specific prioritization for object position information compared with other properties and compared with action observation of the same manipulations. Experiment 2 confirms that this spatial prioritization is likely to arise from manipulation rather than differences in spatial representation in real environments and the movies used for action observation. Thus, our findings imply that physical manipulation of task relevant objects results in a specific prioritization of spatial information about task-relevant objects, possibly coupled with strategic de-prioritization of colour memory for irrelevant objects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130066
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1628
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

This research was supported by a research grant awarded to B.T. and A.K. by The Leverhulme Trust (Project No. F00143O).


  • natural task
  • action
  • video
  • priority
  • memory
  • fixation


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