A priming study on naming real versus pictures of tools

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Experimental Brain Research

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© 2021, under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH, DE part of Springer Nature. There is a growing body of literature demonstrating the relationship between the activation of sensorimotor processes in object recognition. It is unclear, however, if these processes are influenced by the differences in how real (3D) tools and two-dimensional (2D) images of tools are processed by the brain. Here, we examined if these differences could influence the naming of tools. Participants were presented with a prime stimulus that was either a picture of a tool, or a real tool, followed by a target stimulus that was always a real tool. They were then required to name each tool as they appeared. The functional use action required by the target tool was either the same (i.e., squeegee–paint roller) or different (i.e. knife–whisk) to the prime. We found that the format in which the prime tool was presented (i.e., a picture or real tool) had no influence on the participants’ response times to naming the target tool. Furthermore, participants were faster at naming target tools relative to prime tools when the exact same tool was presented as both the prime and target. There was no difference in response times to naming the target tool relative to the prime when they were different tools, regardless of whether the tools’ functional actions were the same or different. We also found more errors in naming target tools relative to the primes when different tools had a different functional action compared to when the same tool was presented as both the prime and the target. Taken together, our results highlight that the functional actions associated with tools do not facilitate or interfere with the recognition of tools for the purposes of naming. The theoretical implications of these results are discussed.

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