Background: Beyond providing cues about an agent's intention, communicative actions convey information about the presence of a second agent towards whom the action is directed (second-agent information). In two psychophysical studies we investigated whether the perceptual system makes use of this information to infer the presence of a second agent when dealing with impoverished and/or noisy sensory input. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants observed point-light displays of two agents (A and B) performing separate actions. In the Communicative condition, agent B's action was performed in response to a communicative gesture by agent A. In the Individual condition, agent A's communicative action was replaced with a non-communicative action. Participants performed a simultaneous masking yes-no task, in which they were asked to detect the presence of agent B. In Experiment 1, we investigated whether criterion c was lowered in the Communicative condition compared to the Individual condition, thus reflecting a variation in perceptual expectations. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the congruence between A's communicative gesture and B's response, to ascertain whether the lowering of c in the Communicative condition reflected a truly perceptual effect. Results demonstrate that information extracted from communicative gestures influences the concurrent processing of biological motion by prompting perception of a second agent (second-agent effect). Conclusions/Significance: We propose that this finding is best explained within a Bayesian framework, which gives a powerful rationale for the pervasive role of prior expectations in visual perception.

The second-agent effect: Communicative gestures increase the likelihood of perceiving a second agent.

MANERA, VALERIA;DEL GIUDICE, Marco;BARA, Bruno Giuseppe;BECCHIO, Cristina
2011

Abstract

Background: Beyond providing cues about an agent's intention, communicative actions convey information about the presence of a second agent towards whom the action is directed (second-agent information). In two psychophysical studies we investigated whether the perceptual system makes use of this information to infer the presence of a second agent when dealing with impoverished and/or noisy sensory input. Methodology/Principal Findings: Participants observed point-light displays of two agents (A and B) performing separate actions. In the Communicative condition, agent B's action was performed in response to a communicative gesture by agent A. In the Individual condition, agent A's communicative action was replaced with a non-communicative action. Participants performed a simultaneous masking yes-no task, in which they were asked to detect the presence of agent B. In Experiment 1, we investigated whether criterion c was lowered in the Communicative condition compared to the Individual condition, thus reflecting a variation in perceptual expectations. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the congruence between A's communicative gesture and B's response, to ascertain whether the lowering of c in the Communicative condition reflected a truly perceptual effect. Results demonstrate that information extracted from communicative gestures influences the concurrent processing of biological motion by prompting perception of a second agent (second-agent effect). Conclusions/Significance: We propose that this finding is best explained within a Bayesian framework, which gives a powerful rationale for the pervasive role of prior expectations in visual perception.
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Manera V; Del Giudice M; Bara BG; Verfaillie K; Becchio C
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/93322
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