Motor resources in peripersonal space are intrinsic to spatial encoding: evidence from motor interference

Tina Iachini, Gennaro Ruggiero, Francesco Ruotolo, Michela Vinciguerra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this study was to explore the role of motor resources in peripersonal space encoding: are they intrinsic to spatial processes or due to action potentiality of objects? To answer this question, we disentangled the effects of motor resources on object manipulability and spatial processing in peripersonal and extrapersonal spaces. Participants had to localize manipulable and non-manipulable 3-D stimuli presented within peripersonal or extrapersonal spaces of an immersive virtual reality scenario. To assess the contribution of motor resources to the spatial task a motor interference paradigm was used. In Experiment 1, localization judgments were provided with the left hand while the right dominant arm could be free or blocked. Results showed that participants were faster and more accurate in localizing both manipulable and non-manipulable stimuli in peripersonal space with their arms free. On the other hand, in extrapersonal space there was no significant effect of motor interference. Experiment 2 replicated these results by using alternatively both hands to give the response and controlling the possible effect of the orientation of object handles. Overall, the pattern of results suggests that the encoding of peripersonal space involves motor processes per se, and not because of the presence of manipulable stimuli. It is argued that this motor grounding reflects the adaptive need of anticipating what may happen near the body and preparing to react in time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-7
Number of pages8
JournalActa Psychologica
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personal Space
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Space Perception
  • Young Adult


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