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Prototypical actions with objects are more easily imagined than atypical actions

Madan, Christopher R.; Ng, Adrian; Singhal, Anthony


Adrian Ng

Anthony Singhal


© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Tool use is an important facet of everyday life, though sometimes it is necessary to use tools in ways that do not fit within their typical functions. Here we asked participants to imagine characters using objects based on instructions that fit the prototypical actions for the object or were atypical in a novel object-action imagery task. Atypical action instructions either described sensible, substitute uses of the object, or actions that were bizarre but possible. Participants were better able to imagine the prototypical than atypical actions, but no effect of bizarreness was found. We additionally assessed inter-individual differences in movement imagery ability using two objective tests. Performance in the object-action imagery task correlated with the movement imagery tests, providing a link between motor simulations and mental imagery ability.


Madan, C. R., Ng, A., & Singhal, A. (2018). Prototypical actions with objects are more easily imagined than atypical actions. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 30(3), 314-320.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 12, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 29, 2018
Publication Date Apr 3, 2018
Deposit Date Jan 15, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 30, 2019
Journal Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Print ISSN 2044-5911
Electronic ISSN 2044-592X
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 3
Pages 314-320
Keywords Mental imagery; Motor imagery; Tool use; Motor simulations; Praxic knowledge
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in on Journal of Cognitive Psychology 29/01/2018, available online:


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