Coordinating vision and action while making tea and sandwiches

Scottish psychologists investigated the temporal coordination between eye movements and other actions during the preparation of tea and a sandwich. Usually vision leads action by about half a second, but this time can vary in different conditions. During the experiments, the researchers found that when preparing tea, people have longer eye-hand latencies, have more “look ahead” fixations, and more looks to irrelevant objects. And when preparing a sandwich, people are quick and specific. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, the requirement to move around the environment did not influence the coordination of vision and action. The researchers concluded that the dynamics of visual behavior during motor acts is related to the content of the task and the objects involved in its solution, but not to the spatial demands requiring movement around an environment.

Pancackes require even more concentration than sandwiches. Photo by Olga Nikandrova

Which is rather understandable in the case of tea and a sandwich. Making a sandwich is awell-defined task, done with concentration, because you make it when you want to eat. And tea is prepared slowly and relaxed, because it is done for pleasure, and because you don’t want to get scalds.