December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
The effect of prior knowledge on biological motion perception
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Hüseyin O. Elmas
    Bilkent University
  • Berfin Aydın
    Bilkent University
  • Sena Er
    Bilkent University
  • Ada D. Rezaki
    Bilkent University
  • Ayşesu İzgi
    TED University
  • Buse M. Urgen
    Bilkent University
  • Huseyin Boyaci
    Bilkent University
  • Burcu A. Urgen
    Bilkent University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  Tubitak grant no 119K654
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3847. doi:
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      Hüseyin O. Elmas, Berfin Aydın, Sena Er, Ada D. Rezaki, Ayşesu İzgi, Buse M. Urgen, Huseyin Boyaci, Burcu A. Urgen; The effect of prior knowledge on biological motion perception. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3847.

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

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The ability to extract information from the body movements of others is crucial for predicting the behavior of others and survival. Humans can infer the action, emotional state, and gender of others from a set of dots known as point-light biological motion. The present study investigates whether prior knowledge about the action, gender, and emotional state of others affect biological motion perception. To this end, we conducted three experiments with a cued individuation paradigm in which participants were required to detect the spatial location of a biological motion stimulus presented either on the right or the left of a central fixation. On the other side of the screen, a scrambled motion stimulus was displayed, and we recorded response times. Both stimulus types were embedded in noise dots to increase task difficulty. The number of noise dots in each trial was determined using an adaptive procedure (QUEST). Prior to this task, participants were provided with a cue that predicted the type of the biological motion stimulus. The cue was about the action type in Experiment 1 (N=17), the emotional state in Experiment 2 (N=15), and the gender in Experiment 3 (N=15). For each experiment, we had four sessions in which we manipulated the cue validity (neutral, 50%, 75%, 100%). Our ANOVA results showed that biological motion was individuated faster in the congruent trials than the incongruent trials (p<0.01) when the cue validity was high (75%), and the cue was about the action that the biological motion stimulus displayed but not if the cue was related to the gender and emotional state. Taken together, these results suggest that biological motion perception is affected by prior knowledge, although not all types of knowledge are equally informative.


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