In two eye-tracking experiments, just published in Scientific Reports, we investigated how the visuo-perceptual context and the goal of the task influenced both visuo-attentional processing and object recognition of tools that are part of object-tool pairs. We found that participants’ fixation pattern focused on tool's manipulation area (e.g., the handle of a screwdriver) under thematically consistent conditions (e.g., screwdriver-screw pair) and on tool's functional area (e.g., the head of a hammer) under thematically inconsistent conditions (e.g., screwdriver-nut pair). Crucially, looking at the tools with the aim of recognising them generated longer fixations on tools’ functional areas, irrespective of thematic consistency. In addition, tools, but not objects, were recognised faster under thematically consistent conditions.
These results challenge the mainstream embodied cognition view and strongly support a reasoning-based approach of human