Project: Individual Differences in Social Perception and Cognition

bio-lowkick bio-throw bio-walking

Individual Differences in Biological Motion Perception

Biological motion processing is both commonplace and important, but there is great inter-individual variability in this ability, the neural basis of which is currently unknown. Biological motion perception is often claimed to support social cognition, and to rely upon embodied representations and motor imagery. Are people with higher levels of social traits or more vivid motor imagery better at biological motion perception? Are there structural or functional neural markers that correlate with individual differences in biological motion processing? This project aims to explore the variability in biological motion processing in relation to a range of behavioral and cognitive measures as well as structural images of the brain. Our results thus far show that although both social cognition and motor imagery predict sensitivity to biological motion, these skills likely tap into different aspects perception. Using structural MRI and voxel-based morphometry (VBM), we also found that individual sensitivity to biological motion detection correlates with grey matter density in left superior temporal sulcus and left ventral premotor cortex.

Selected Papers and Presentations

  • Miller, L.E. & Saygin, A.P. (2013) Intersubject variability in the perception of biological motion: Links to social cognition and motor imagery.Cognition, 128(2): 140-148.  PDF
  • Gilaie-Dotan, S., Kanai, R., Bahrami, B., Rees, G., Saygin, A.P. (2013) Structural neural correlates of biological motion detection ability. Neuropsychologia, 51(3):457-63.  PDF
  • Saygin, A.P. (2007) Superior temporal and premotor brain areas necessary for biological motion perception. Brain, 130: 2452-2461.  PDF

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number CAREER 1151805. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.