Thursday, June 25, 2009
Unconscious motor control that conflicts with conscious awareness.
During my recent Europe vacation, on stepping onto an escalator in the Munich metro that I knew was stopped, I noticed that odd sensation accompanied by clumsy movements that is probably also familiar to you, as if my motor behavior and sensations were being guided by a “phantom” of a moving escalator. Fukui et al. show that this is the consequence of an unconscious automatic habitual motor program cued by the escalator itself. Their results suggest a dissociation between conscious awareness and subconscious motor control: the former makes us perfectly aware of the current environmental situation, but the latter automatically emerges as a result of highly habituated visual input no matter how unsuitable the motor control is.