Dijkerman & de Haan (D&dH) propose a convincing model of somatosensory organization that is inspired by earlier perception-action models of the visual system. In this commentary, we suggest that the dorsal and ventral visual streams both contribute to the control of action, but in different ways. Using the example of grip and load force calibration, we show how the ventral stream can invoke stored information about the material properties of objects originally derived from the somatosensory system.
The visual system is known to extract summary representations of visually similar objects which bias the perception of individual objects toward the ensemble average. Although vision plays a large role in guiding action, less is known about whether ensemble representation is informative for action. Motor behavior is tuned to the veridical dimensions of objects and generally considered resistant to perceptual biases. However, when the relevant grasp dimension is not available or is unconstrained, ensemble perception may be informative to behavior by (...) providing gist information about surrounding objects. In the present study, we examined if summary representations of a surrounding ensemble display influenced grip aperture and orientation when participants reached-to-grasp a central circular target which had an explicit size but importantly no explicit orientation that the visuomotor system could selectively attend to. Maximum grip aperture and grip orientation were not biased by ensemble statistics during grasping, although participants were able to perceive and provide manual estimations of the average size and orientation of the ensemble display. Support vector machine classification of ensemble statistics achieved above-chance classification accuracy when trained on kinematic and electromyography data of the perceptual but not grasping conditions, supporting our univariate findings. These results suggest that even along unconstrained grasping dimensions, visually-guided behaviors toward real-world objects are not biased by ensemble processing. (shrink)