Inducing closing-in phenomenon in healthy young adults: The effect of dual task and stimulus complexity on drawing performance

Laura Sagliano, Francesca D'Olimpio, Massimiliano Conson, Angela Cappuccio, Dario Grossi, Luigi Trojano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Closing-in (CI) is the tendency to act very close to the model in tasks such as drawing, 3D construction, gesture imitation, or writing. Closing-in is observed in degenerative and focal brain diseases, but also in normally developing children. In the present paper, three experiments were conducted to evaluate whether CI can be triggered during a copying task in normal young adults by increasing stimulus complexity and attentional load. Participants were required to copy complex lines in one of three conditions: without interfering activities (baseline), during counting, or during execution of a 2-back short-term memory task. In Experiment 1, participants were required to reproduce horizontally aligned stimuli, starting from a dot placed below each stimulus and proceeding from left to right; in Experiment 2, stimuli were again horizontally aligned, but the starting dot was placed above each stimulus, and writing proceeded from right to left; in Experiment 3, stimuli were aligned vertically and copying proceeded in upward direction. Results from all experiments showed that when normal young adults are engaged in an attentional-demanding concurrent activity, they tend to approach to the model, whereas the effect of stimulus complexity disappeared with unusual writing direction (Experiments 2 and 3). These findings demonstrate that even in normal young adults, a reduction in available attentional resources can release an attraction toward the model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-418
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Attention
  • Closing-in
  • Drawing
  • Dual task
  • Visuospatial cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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