Researchers in the field of active perception study how sensory processes coalesce with motor actions to extract information from the world. Such actions intrinsically alter perceptual processing and have intended sensory outcomes, but also lead to incidental sensory consequences, which are side effects of moving the sensory surface to its intended goal. These incidental consequences of actions are generally considered a nuisance to perception that needs to be attenuated or suppressed during movement execution. In this Perspective, we propose instead that incidental sensory consequences of actions shape perceptual processes through action–perception couplings and we review evidence from the domain of active vision. We propose four hallmarks representing the degrees to which actions are an integral part of a perceptual processing architecture. Finally, we outline a research strategy for probing these hallmarks in active perceptual systems and conclude that researchers of perception should embrace the study of action kinematics in pursuit of their questions.
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The authors thank L. M. Kroell, J.-N. Klanke, S. Ohl, Ł. Grzeczkowski, C. Hübner and W. Nörenberg for feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript, and all members of the Active Perception and Cognition group for helpful discussions. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 865715) as well as from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; German Research Foundation) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy — EXC 2002/1 ‘Science of Intelligence’ — project no. 390523135. M.R. was supported by the Heisenberg Programme of the DFG (grants RO 3579/8-1 and RO 3579/12-1).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Rolfs, M., Schweitzer, R. Coupling perception to action through incidental sensory consequences of motor behaviour. Nat Rev Psychol 1, 112–123 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-021-00015-x
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