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A vast literature exists on human biological motion perception in impoverished displays, e.g., point-light walkers. Less is known about the perception of impoverished biological motion displays in macaques. We trained 3 macaques in the discrimination of facing direction (left versus right) and forward versus backward walking using motion-capture-based locomotion displays (treadmill walking) in which the body features were represented by cylinder-like primitives. The displays did not contain translatory motion. Discriminating forward versus backward locomotion requires motion information while the facing-direction/view task can be solved using motion and/or form. All monkeys required lengthy training to learn the forward-backward task, while the view task was learned more quickly. Once acquired, the discriminations were specific to walking and stimulus format but generalized across actors. Although the view task could be solved using form cues, there was a small impact of motion. Performance in the forward-backward task was highly susceptible to degradations of spatiotemporal stimulus coherence and motion information. These results indicate that rhesus monkeys require extensive training in order to use the intrinsic motion cues related to forward versus backward locomotion and imply that extrapolation of observations concerning human perception of impoverished biological motion displays onto monkey perception needs to be made cautiously.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vis

Publication Date





22.1 - 2219


Adult, Animals, Conditioning (Psychology), Cues, Discrimination (Psychology), Female, Fixation, Ocular, Form Perception, Humans, Locomotion, Macaca mulatta, Male, Motion Perception, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Photic Stimulation, Psychophysics, Walking, Young Adult