Creating semantics in tool use

Badets, Arnaud, Michelet, Thomas, de Rugy, Aymar and Osiurak, Francois (2017) Creating semantics in tool use. Cognitive Processing, 18 2: 1-6. doi:10.1007/s10339-017-0795-8

Author Badets, Arnaud
Michelet, Thomas
de Rugy, Aymar
Osiurak, Francois
Title Creating semantics in tool use
Journal name Cognitive Processing   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1612-4790
Publication date 2017-02-21
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s10339-017-0795-8
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 18
Issue 2
Start page 1
End page 6
Total pages 6
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Language eng
Subject 3205 Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
2805 Cognitive Neuroscience
1702 Artificial Intelligence
Abstract This article presents the first evidence for a functional link between tool use and the processing of abstract symbols like Arabic numbers. Participants were required to perform a tool-use task after the processing of an Arabic number. These numbers represented either a small (2 or 3) or a large magnitude (8 or 9). The tool-use task consisted in using inverse pliers for gripping either a small or a large object. The inverse pliers enable to dissociate the hand action from the tool action in relation to the object (i.e., closing the hand led to an opening of the tool and vice versa). The number/tool hypothesis predicts that the quantity representation associated with Arabic numbers will interact with the action of the tool toward the object. Conversely, the number/hand hypothesis predicts that the quantity associated with numbers will interact with the action of the hand toward the tool. Results confirmed the first hypothesis and rejected the second. Indeed, large numbers interacted with the action of the tool, such that participants were longer to perform an “opening-hand/closing-tool” action after the processing of large numbers. Moreover, no effect was detected for small numbers, confirming previous studies which used only finger movements. Altogether, our finding suggests that the well-known finger/number interaction can be reversed with tool use.
Keyword Ideomotor mechanism
Number processing
Tool use
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID ANR-2011-MALZ-006-03
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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