Other peoples’ actions interact within our visual system

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Perception of actions relies on the behaviour of neurons in the temporal cortex that respond selectively to the actions of other individuals. It is becoming increasingly clear that visual adaptation, well known for influencing early visual processing of more simple stimuli, appears also to have an influence at later processing stages where actions are coded. In a series of studies we, and others, have been using visual adaptation techniques to attempt to characterize the mechanisms underlying our ability to recognize and interpret information from actions. Action adaptation generates action aftereffects where perception of subsequent actions is biased; they show many of the characteristics of both low-level and high-level face aftereffects, increasing logarithmically with duration of action observation, and declining logarithmically over time. I will discuss recent studies where we have investigated the implications for action adaptation in naturalistic social environments. We used high-definition, orthostereoscopic presentation of life-sized photorealistic actors on a 5.3 x 2.4 m screen in order to maximize immersion in a Virtual Reality environment. We find that action recognition and judgments we make about the internal mental state of other individuals is changed in a way that can be explained by action adaptation. Our ability to recognize and interpret the actions of an individual is dependent, not only on what that individual is doing, but the effect that other individuals in the environment have on our current brain state. Whether or not two individuals are actually interacting in the environment, it seems they interact within our visual system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJournal of Vision
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameJournal of Vision
ISSN (Print)1534-7362

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