Visual aftereffects for walking reveal underlying neural mechanisms for action recognition

N. E. Barraclough, T. Jellema

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


We present results illustrating a new high-level visual after-effect: observing actors walking forward, without horizontal translation, make subsequent actors appear to walk backward, while the opposite effect is obtained after observing backward walking. We used this after-effect, which cannot be explained by simple low-level adaptation to motion direction, to investigate the properties of neural mechanisms underlying recognition of walking actions. Our results suggest that the perception of walking actions containing movement and the perception of static images of actors in walking postures relies on common brain mechanisms that are primarily object-centered, rather than viewer-centered, and are “blind” to the identity of the actor. These results obtained with human psychophysical adaptation techniques support previous evidence accumulated using single unit recording in non-human primates, and should be incorporated into current models of human action recognition. We conclude that action-adaptation is a powerful technique to determine the brain mechanisms in humans that underlie our perception of the behavior of other individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerception
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Cite this