College of Science
Mere observation of objects around us can potentiate motor action by priming specific areas in the brain. This concept, referred to as the affordance effect, suggests that humans put viewed objects into motor terms automatically. Such automated linking of observations to action offers potential advantages to interact with our environment quickly and efficiently when producing goal-directed movements.
One possible application of this affordance effect includes the rapid balance reactions needed to avoid a fall. In reactive balance control, movements must be extremely fast yet simultaneously appropriate for a given environment (e.g. quickly grasping a nearby handrail to avoid a fall).
The present study was conducted to test if viewing a wall-mounted handrail – the type of handle commonly used to regain balance – results in activation of motor cortical networks.
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McDannald, D.; Mansour, M.; and Rydalch, Garrett, "Motor Affordance for Grasping a Handrail" (2018). Research on Capitol Hill. Paper 86.