September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Tempo rubato: Animacy speeds up time in the brain
Author Affiliations
  • Mauro Carrozzo
    Institute of Neuroscience, National Research Council, Rome, Italy
    Laboratory of Neuromotor Physiology, Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy
  • Alessandro Moscatelli
    Laboratory of Neuromotor Physiology, Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy
  • Francesco Lacquaniti
    Laboratory of Neuromotor Physiology, Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy
    Centre of Space BioMedicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
    Department of Neuroscience, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 1228. doi:10.1167/11.11.1228
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      Mauro Carrozzo, Alessandro Moscatelli, Francesco Lacquaniti; Tempo rubato: Animacy speeds up time in the brain. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1228. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1228.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract
 

Timing visual events over the scale of tens to hundreds of milliseconds is essential for successful interactions with the everyday surrounding environment. The idea that events are timed by a centralized clock has recently been called into question in favour of distributed, specialized mechanisms. Here we provide evidence for a critical specialization: animate and inanimate events are separately timed by humans. In different experiments and without performance feedback, observers were asked to intercept a moving target or to discriminate the duration of a stationary flash while viewing different computer graphics scenes. In the scene background one of six moving characters was displayed. The most natural character type was denoted as Biological-Motion because it was endowed with the kinematics recorded from a real human actor. Naturalness and animacy were degraded in the Upside-Down character where the human figure was displayed in a vertically inverted orientation and in the character type Time-Shifted whose motion was obtained from the original by randomly time-shifting the angular motion of single segments. These animate characters were contrasted with inanimate characters (Rigid-Translation, Double-Pendulum and Whirligig) whose appearance was clearly artificial. However, the fundamental motion harmonic content of the inanimate characters was matched to that of the original unperturbed animate motion. Subjects rushed to intercept a falling ball in an animate context, whereas they dragged when the context was inanimate. Also, subjects estimated the duration of a stationary flash as being shorter in an animate than in an inanimate context. Remarkably, the animate/inanimate context also affected randomly intermingled trials which always depicted the same still character. The existence of distinct time bases for animate and inanimate events might be related to the partial segregation of the neural networks processing these two categories of objects, and could enhance our ability to predict critically timed actions.

 
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