Nothing magical: pantomimed grasping is controlled by the ventral system

Thijs Rinsma, John van der Kamp, Matt Dicks, Rouwen Cañal-Bruland

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In a recent amendment to the two-visual systems model, it has been proposed that the action must result in tactile contact with the goal object for the dorsal system to become engaged (Whitwell et al., 2014). The present study tested this addition by assessing the use of allocentric information in normal and pantomime actions. To this end, magicians and participants who were inexperienced in performing pantomime actions made normal and pantomime grasps toward objects embedded in the Müller-Lyer illusion. During pantomime grasping, a grasp was made next to an object that was in full view (i.e., a displaced pantomime grasping task). The results showed that pantomime grasps took longer, were slower, and had smaller hand apertures than normal grasping. Most importantly, hand apertures were affected by the illusion during pantomime grasping but not in normal grasping, indicating that displaced pantomime grasping is based on allocentric information. This was true for participants without experience in performing pantomime grasps as well as for magicians with experience in pantomiming. The finding that the illusory bias is limited to pantomime grasping and persists with experience supports the conjecture that the normal engagement of the dorsal system’s contribution requires tactile contact with a goal object. If no tactile contact is made, then movement control shifts toward the ventral system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1823-1833
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number6
Early online date15 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • pantomime
  • two-visual systems
  • grasping
  • allocentric information
  • visual illusion


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