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The Visual Representation of Human Body Orientation Revealed by Adaptation
Experiment Psychology Society Meeting, Cambridge, April 2008
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Electrophysiological research in macaques has revealed cells in the superior temporal sulcus (STS) that respond selectively to different seen body orientations and poses (Perrett et al., 1992; Jellema et al., 2003). We used visual adaptation to investigate the functional organization of body orientation perception in humans. Experiment 1 showed that adaptation to left (or right) facing bodies increased participants’ tendency to perceive subsequently viewed left (or right) bodies as facing directly towards them – evidence for direction selective coding of seen body orientation in humans. Experiment 2 investigated whether the visual representation of body orientation is coded by an opponent-coding system, implicated in facial identity perception (Rhodes et al., 2005) or a multichannel system, which has been shown underlie the visual representation of seen gaze (Calder et al., in press). Consistent with multichannel coding, simultaneous adaptation to left and right facing bodies resulted in an increased tendency to perceive subsequently seen left and right oriented bodies as direct. Also consistent with a multichannel system, adapting to direct facing bodies produced an increased tendency to perceive subsequently seen left and right body directions as averted. Our findings provide the first evidence for distinct representations of different body directions within the context of a multichannel system.