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Soc Neurosci. 2009;4(4):332-46. doi: 10.1080/17470910902826820. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

The visual perception of human and animal motion in point-light displays.

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Lafayette College, Easton, PA, USA.


Mounting neurophysiological evidence indicates that the visual analysis of human movement differs from the visual analysis of other categories of complex movement. If different patterns of neural activity underlie visual percepts of human and nonhuman movement, then psychophysical measures should elucidate different patterns of visual sensitivity to human movement and similarly complex, but nonhuman movement. To test this prediction, two psychophysical studies compared visual sensitivity to human and animal motions. Using a simultaneous masking paradigm, observers performed a coherent motion detection task with point-light displays of human and horse gait, presented upright and inverted. While task performance indicated the use of configural processing during the detection of both human and horse motion, observers demonstrated greater visual sensitivity to coherent human motion than coherent horse motion. Recent experience influenced orientation dependence for both types of motion. Together with previous neurophysiological findings, these psychophysical results suggest that the visual perception of human movement is both distinct from and shares commonalities with the visual perception of similarly complex, nonhuman movement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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