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People watching: The visual, motor, and social analyses of human movement

Maggie Shiffrar

Monday, February 12, 2007, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

Rutgers University, Department of Psychology

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As inherently social animals, humans must accurately perceive andinterpret the movements of other people. What processes underlie thisperceptual ability? Psychophysical evidence indicates that the visualanalysis of human motion can occur over greater spatial and temporalextents than other visual motion analyses. Thus, the visual analysis ofhuman movement differs from other visual motion analyses. Why might thisbe so? Human action diverges from other categories of visual motion in atleast three ways. First, human movement is the only motion that humanobservers can both produce and perceive. Second, human motion is the mostfrequently occurring category of visual motion. Third, human motioncarries more emotional information than other motion stimuli. In a seriesof behavioral and brain imaging studies, the contributions of these threesources of information, motor input, perceptual learning, and emotionalprocesses, on the visual analysis of human movement are considered. Background reading: Blake & Shiffrar (2007) Perception of Human Motion. Annual Review ofPsychology.

Maggie Shiffrar