Body Configuration Modulates the Usage of Local Cues to Direction in Biological-Motion Perception

M Hirai, Dorita Chang, DR Saunders, NF Troje

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of information in a visual display does not guarantee its use by the visual system. Studies of inversion effects in both face recognition and biological-motion perception have shown that the same information may be used by observers when it is presented in an upright display but not used when the display is inverted. In our study, we tested the inversion effect in scrambled biological-motion displays to investigate mechanisms that validate information contained in the local motion of a point-light walker. Using novel biological-motion stimuli that contained no configural cues to the direction in which a walker was facing, we found that manipulating the relative vertical location of the walker's feet significantly affected observers' performance on a direction-discrimination task. Our data demonstrate that, by themselves, local cues can almost unambiguously indicate the facing direction of the agent in biological-motion stimuli. Additionally, we document a noteworthy interaction between local and global information and offer a new explanation for the effect of local inversion in biological-motion perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1543-1549
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • social perception
  • motion perception
  • visual perception


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