The affordance-matching hypothesis: how objects guide action understanding and prediction

Patric Bach*, Toby Nicholson, Matthew Hudson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Action understanding lies at the heart of social interaction. Prior research has often conceptualized this capacity in terms of a motoric matching of observed actions to an action in one's motor repertoire, but has ignored the role of object information. In this manuscript, we set out an alternative conception of intention understanding, which places the role of objects as central to our observation and comprehension of the actions of others. We outline the current understanding of the interconnectedness of action and object knowledge, demonstrating how both rely heavily on the other. We then propose a novel framework, the affordance-matching hypothesis, which incorporates these findings into a simple model of action understanding, in which object knowledge-what an object is for and how it is used-can inform and constrain both action interpretation and prediction. We will review recent empirical evidence that supports such an object-based view of action understanding and we relate the affordance matching hypothesis to recent proposals that have reconceptualized the role of mirror neurons in action understanding.

Original languageEnglish
Article number254
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume8
Early online date12 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2014

Keywords

  • affordances
  • action understanding
  • action prediction
  • object function
  • object manipulation
  • MIRROR-NEURON SYSTEM
  • VENTRAL PREMOTOR CORTEX
  • TOOL-USE
  • ACTION REPRESENTATIONS
  • MOTOR FACILITATION
  • MANIPULATABLE OBJECTS
  • IMPOSSIBLE MOVEMENTS
  • FUNCTIONAL KNOWLEDGE
  • GRASPING MOVEMENTS
  • ACTION RECOGNITION

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