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Martin A. Giese; Symposium Summary. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):12. doi: 10.1167/11.11.12.
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The expression of emotion by body postures and movements is highly relevant in social communication. However, only recently this topic has attracted substantial interest in visual neuroscience. The combination of modern approaches for stimulus generation by computer graphics, psychophysics, brain imaging, research on patients with brain damage, and novel computational methods have revealed interesting novel insights in the processing of these complex visual stimuli. The combination of experimental techniques with different computational approaches, including ones from computational vision, has revealed novel insights in the critical visual features for the perception of emotions from bodily expressions. Likewise, such approaches have provided novel insights in the relationship between visual perception and action generation, and the influence of attention on the processing of such stimuli. The symposium brings together specialists from different fields who have studied the perception of emotional body expressions with complementary methodologies. This work has revealed the importance of affective signals conveyed the whole body, in addition and beyond the well-studied channel of static facial expressions. The first talk by M. Shiffrar presents work that investigates the perception of threats from body stimuli. The second contribution by B. de Gelder will discuss experiments showing that the perception of emotion from bodies is still possible without visual awareness, potentially involving subcortical visual structures. These experiments include functional imaging studies and studies in patients. The contribution by M. Giese presents several examples how a combination of psychophysical experiments and statistical techniques from machine learning is suitable for the identification of critical visual features that are essential for the recognition of emotions of interactive and non-interactive body movements. Finally, the contribution of T. Flash shows evidence from psychophysical and imaging experiments that supports the hypothesis that the visual system is tuned to the perception of spatio-temporal invariants that are common, specifically, to emotional body movements. Summarizing, the symposium will present examples for a novel approach for the study of complex visual mechanism that provide a basis for the quantitative and well—controlled study of the visual processing of complex social signals. Such work will be interesting for a broad spectrum of VSS visitors, including faculty, researcher and students. The topic should be of particular interest to visitors from high-level vision, face/body and motion perception.
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