Read about new research using electrophysiological recording methods recently published in Psychological Science.
Jeremy Goslin, Thomas Dixon, Martin H. Fischer, Angelo Cangelosi, and Rob Ellis
This study examined the link between the visual properties of objects and the motor actions associated with those objects. Participants viewed objects with handles facing leftward or rightward and answered questions about the objects by pressing buttons with their left or right hand. In some cases, the button push corresponded with the direction of the handle (congruent), and in other cases it did not (incongruent). Event-related potentials corresponding to early visual processing (P1 and N1) were affected by response congruency, whereas lateralized readiness potentials indicated rapid preparation for motor response only on the congruent trials. This indicates that our earliest visual responses to an object may be modulated by both the action associated with an object and by our intentions towards the object.
Eugenio Parise and Gergely Csibra
Does early word knowledge in infants represent sound pattern-object feature associations, or does it reflect referential understanding? Encephalogram was recorded during a task in which 9-month-old infants were told the name of an object by either their mother or a researcher and were then shown a picture of the object. In some cases the word matched the picture (congruous trial), and in others it did not (incongruous trial). Researchers found that on trials in which the mother spoke, the N400 waveform — an event related potential that reflects semantic priming — was larger for incongruous than for congruous trials. This finding suggests that word-to-object priming occurs in infants as young as 9 months and that infants may understand the referential nature of words.