Egocentric metric representations in peripersonal space: A bridge between motor resources and spatial memory.Br J Psychol. 2020 Jul 25 [Online ahead of print]BJ
Research on visuospatial memory has shown that egocentric (subject-to-object) and allocentric (object-to-object) reference frames are connected to categorical (non-metric) and coordinate (metric) spatial relations, and that motor resources are recruited especially when processing spatial information in peripersonal (within arm reaching) than extrapersonal (outside arm reaching) space. In order to perform our daily-life activities, these spatial components cooperate along a continuum from recognition-related (e.g., recognizing stimuli) to action-related (e.g., reaching stimuli) purposes. Therefore, it is possible that some types of spatial representations rely more on action/motor processes than others. Here, we explored the role of motor resources in the combinations of these visuospatial memory components. A motor interference paradigm was adopted in which participants had their arms bent behind their back or free during a spatial memory task. This task consisted in memorizing triads of objects and then verbally judging what was the object: (1) closest to/farthest from the participant (egocentric coordinate); (2) to the right/left of the participant (egocentric categorical); (3) closest to/farthest from a target object (allocentric coordinate); and (4) on the right/left of a target object (allocentric categorical). The triads appeared in participants' peripersonal (Experiment 1) or extrapersonal (Experiment 2) space. The results of Experiment 1 showed that motor interference selectively damaged egocentric-coordinate judgements but not the other spatial combinations. The results of Experiment 2 showed that the interference effect disappeared when the objects were in the extrapersonal space. A third follow-up study using a within-subject design confirmed the overall pattern of results. Our findings provide evidence that motor resources play an important role in the combination of coordinate spatial relations and egocentric representations in peripersonal space.