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Are you approaching me? Motor execution influences perceived action orientation.

By Valeria Manera, Andrea Cavallo, Claudia Chiavarino, Ben Schouten, Karl Verfaillie and Cristina Becchio


Human observers are especially sensitive to the actions of conspecifics that match their own actions. This has been proposed to be critical for social interaction, providing the basis for empathy and joint action. However, the precise relation between observed and executed actions is still poorly understood. Do ongoing actions change the way observers perceive others' actions? To pursue this question, we exploited the bistability of depth-ambiguous point-light walkers, which can be perceived as facing towards the viewer or as facing away from the viewer. We demonstrate that point-light walkers are perceived more often as facing the viewer when the observer is walking on a treadmill compared to when the observer is performing an action that does not match the observed behavior (e.g., cycling). These findings suggest that motor processes influence the perceived orientation of observed actions: Acting observers tend to perceive similar actions by conspecifics as oriented towards themselves. We discuss these results in light of the possible mechanisms subtending action-induced modulation of perception

Topics: Medicine, R, Science, Q
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037514
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