Motion perception

When we move about in the world, the patterns of light falling onto our retinae change constantly due to our self-motion, the movement of our eyes, and the movements of objects around us. Researchers in the lab are interested in understanding how the brain extracts and processes different types of motion information, such as the motion caused by our own movements (‘optic flow), the motion of moving objects, and also the motion of other people. (click for more).

Research in the lab has shown that we perceive the motion of a drifting grating defined by luminance by comparing changes in contrast energy across space and time, whereas we use our attentional system to process a moving grating defined by texture contrast. Our research has also shown that processing of contrast-defined motion is more affected by healthy aging than luminance-defined motion, potentially due to age-related declines in the attentional system. Current research examines how aging affects the attentional tracking system when perceiving one or multiple moving objects.

Another type of motion perception is the perception of biological motion. Studies using point-light-walkers have shown that we can extract a wealth of information from the pattern of movements of the joints of a human walker, including their emotional state, gender, overall size, in addition to their heading direction and speed. Researchers in the lab are interested in learning how aging and experience affects biological motion perception. Previous research in the lab has shown that aging impairs biological motion processing, especially at near distances where it is necessary to integrate information across large distances. Current research examines whether professional athletes have better biological motion processing for specific types of movements, and how this expertise may develop.

Past and ongoing projects

  • Biological motion perception in professional athletes
  • Limits of attentional tracking in younger and older adults
  • Motion perception and aging