Chapter

Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up Processing of Biological Motion

Ian M. Thornton

in People Watching

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195393705
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979271 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393705.003.0003

Series: Oxford Series in Visual Cognition

Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up Processing of Biological Motion

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While the visual perception of biological motion is traditionally thought to rely on top-down or stimulus-driven processes that operate locally over space and time, this chapter reviews evidence that, at least under some conditions, top-down processing also drives the perception of human movement. Evidence in support of top-down processing includes the fact that observers’ percepts of point-light displays of human movement are exceptionally robust across an unusually wide range of experimental manipulations, that the perception of biological motion is attention dependent, and that numerous brain regions appear to contribute to the perception of biological motion. The top-down processing system may have evolved as a means of overcoming the many limitations associated with bottom-up processing of biological motion.

Keywords: bottom-up; top-down; global processing; local processing; attention; masking; invariants; inversion; amodal dynamic coding; experience; categorical perception; psychophysics

Chapter.  10774 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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