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Cognition. 2008 Feb;106(2):1059-70. Epub 2007 May 29.

An information-based approach to action understanding.

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Perceptual-Motor Dynamics Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0376, USA.


It has been proposed that the ability to make sense of other agents' behavior relies on the activation of internal mechanisms that map action perception onto action execution. In this study we explored the constraints on this ability introduced by eyeheight-scaled information in the optic array. Short and tall participants provided maximum overhead reaching judgments for themselves and another participant. Perceptual information was manipulated by changing the participants' optically specified eyeheight. Observers were modestly accurate in perceiving maximum overhead reach for themselves and for another actor whose action capabilities differed. Perceived maximum overhead reach increased for both self- and other-judgments when the perceiver's eyeheight was increased. The results suggest an important role of perceptual information that has gone unrecognized in existing accounts of action understanding and prediction.

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