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Journal Article

The visual perception of human locomotion

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Thornton, I., Debbage, P., & Shiffrar, M. (1998). The visual perception of human locomotion. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 15(6-8), 535-552. doi:10.1080/026432998381014.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-E942-5
To function adeptly within our environment, we must perceive and interpret the movements of others. What mechanisms underlie our exquisite visual sensitivity to human m ovement? To address this question, a set of psychophysical studies was conducted to ascertain the temporal characteristics of the visual perception of human locomotion. Subjects viewed a computer-generated point-light walker presented within a mask under conditions of apparent motion. The temporal delay between the display frames as well as the motion characteristics of the mask were varied. With sufficiently long trial durations, performance in a direction discrimination task remained fairly constant across inter-stimulus interval (ISI) when the walker was presented within a random motion mask but increased with ISI when the mask motion duplicated the motion of the walker. This pattern of results suggests that both low-level and high-level visual analyses are involved in the visual perception of human locomotion. These findings are discussed in relation to recent neurophysiological data suggesting that the visual perception of human movement may involve a functional linkage between the visual and motor systems.