Reflexive Attention to Configural and Local Motion Cues in a Biological Motion Display
Hanley, Elizabeth N.
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The purpose of the present study was to explore the role of configural and local opponent motion cues in eliciting incidental processing from the visual system during a biological motion display. In Experiment 1, the contribution of configural cues to the incidental processing of biological motion in the context of a flanker paradigm was explored. Participants (n = 12) viewed a central point-light walker (PLW), or figure comprised of dots representing the major joints and extremities of the human form, surrounded by flankers presenting compromised configural cues. Incidental processing of the flankers was measured as reaction time latencies on a direction discrimination task for the target walker. Configural information in the apparent absence of local opponent motion appears to elicit incidental processing, although the perceptual "fill-in" required to process the compromised PLWs may come at a cost in response time. In Experiment 2, the contribution of the local opponent motion of the feet in eliciting incidental processing of biological motion was explored. This was again situated in the context of a flanker paradigm, in which participants (n = 12) viewed a target PLW surrounded by flankers. In the case of the local opponent motion of the feet, incidental processing appeared as a walker congruency effect. The results of Experiment 1 and Experiment 2 support the idea that both configural and local opponent motion cues elicit reflexive attention from the visual system. The results from these experiments add to our understanding of how the visual system perceives and processes biological motion, and may facilitate further studies on visually salient cues in biological motion displays.
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