Recognizing people from their movement

Fani Loula, Sapna Prasad, Kent Harber, Maggie Shiffrar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

320 Scopus citations


Human observers demonstrate impressive visual sensitivity to human movement. What defines this sensitivity? If motor experience influences the visual analysis of action, then observers should be most sensitive to their own movements. If view-dependent visual experience determines visual sensitivity to human movement, then observers should be most sensitive to the movements of their friends. To test these predictions, participants viewed sagittal displays of point-light depictions of themselves, their friends, and strangers performing various actions. In actor identification and discrimination tasks, sensitivity to one's own motion was highest. Visual sensitivity to friends', but not strangers', actions was above chance. Performance was action dependent. Control studies yielded chance performance with inverted and static displays, suggesting that form and low-motion cues did not define performance. These results suggest that both motor and visual experience define visual sensitivity to human action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-220
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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