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Research at St Andrews

Social perception from static and dynamic visual information

Research output: Research - peer-reviewAbstract


D. I. Perrett, D. Xiao, T. Jellema, N. Barraclough, M. W. Oram

School/Research organisations


Social cognition relies on interpreting the 'state' of others. Shape, texture, and colour cues are available from the face to drive social cognition. Within the temporal cortex, colour modulates responses of 70% of cells tuned to the form of faces. For human perception, colour influences perception of identity, attractiveness, and health. Face colour coded by cells, may therefore shape social cognition. For an agent, the direction of attention and movement relative to objects allow the agent's behaviour to be coded as goal-directed. Extrapolation from visible body movements can support inferences when the action becomes occluded from sight. For example, one can infer the continued presence of a person hidden behind a screen if one sees the person walk there but not re-emerge. Moreover, intentions can be inferred if the person's reappearance does not occur when predicted from their trajectory before occlusion. Information about likely future or prior body movements can also be 'implied' from postures visible at specific moments. It is proposed that associative learning mechanisms relate available visual cues to action outcomes and social cognition. In this scheme, social cognition becomes a process of statistical inference about likely behaviour and the attributes of others from sensory cues.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-120
Number of pages1
Issue numberECVP Abstract Supplement
StatePublished - 2006

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