Processing of biological motion point-light displays by baboons (Papio papio)


  • Parron Carole
  • Deruelle Christine
  • Fagot Joël

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Humans apply complex conceptual judgments to point-light displays (PLDs) representing biological motion (BM), but how animals process this kind of display remains uncertain. Four baboons (Papio papio) were trained to discriminate BM from nonbiological motion PLDs using an operant computerized test system. Transfer tests were given after training with novel BM stimuli representing humans or baboons (Experiment 1), with inverted PLDs (Experiment 2), and with BM stimuli in which body parts had been spatially disorganized (Experiment 3). Very limited transfer was obtained with the novel and inverted displays in Experiments 1 and 2, but transfer was much higher after spatial disorganization in Experiment 3. It is suggested that the baboons did not retrieve and interpret the articulated shape of the human or monkey body from the BM PLD stimuli, but rather focused their attention on the configural properties of subparts of the stimuli. Limits in perceptual grouping and restricted abilities in picture-object equivalence might explain why the baboons did not map BM PLD displays onto what they represent.

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