Visual adaptation distorts judgments of human behaviour during naturalistic viewing

Nick Barraclough, Bruce David Keefe, Joanna Wincenciak, James Ward, Tjeerd Jellema

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


Observing the behaviour of other individuals allows us to infer the goals of their actions and to derive information about their internal thought processes. A network of brain areas sub-serves these processes that contain neurons that respond selectively to specific visual actions. Visual adaptation results in a selective reduction of the sensitivity of neurons tuned to a visual stimulus and results in perceptual aftereffects. The extent to which adaptation influences processing of actions and human behaviour at increasingly higher stages of processing is unknown. We show that processing of action kinematics for action recognition is biased by visual adaptation leading to incorrect judgments of human actions. Visual adaptation also biases more complex inferences about the mental states of individuals in the social scene, but this is due to downstream effects of visual processing biases, rather than adaptation operating within mentalizing or simulation systems. Our research overcomes previous limitations resulting from the use of unrealistic or simplistic stimuli by using Virtual Reality to present life-sized, photorealistic and 3D actors within naturally unfolding social scenes. Judgments of human behaviour are dependent on a combination of what an individual is doing and the adaptive effect of other individuals within the social environment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerception
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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