Attentional networks and biological motion

Chandramouli Chandrasekaran, Lucy Turner, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Ian M. Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Our ability to see meaningful actions when presented with point-light traces of human movement is commonly referred to as the perception of biological motion. While traditional explanations have emphasized the spontaneous and automatic nature of this ability, more recent findings suggest that attention may play a larger role than is typically assumed. In two studies we show that the speed and accuracy of responding to point-light stimuli is highly correlated with the ability to control selective attention. In our first experiment we measured thresholds for determining the walking direction of a masked point-light figure, and performance on a range of attention-related tasks in the same set of observers. Mask-density thresholds for the direction discrimination task varied quite considerably from observer to observer and this variation was highly correlated with performance on both Stroop and flanker interference tasks. Other components of attention, such as orienting, alerting and visual search efficiency, showed no such relationship. In a second experiment, we examined the relationship between the ability to determine the orientation of unmasked point-light actions and Stroop interference, again finding a strong correlation. Our results are consistent with previous research suggesting that biological motion processing may requite attention, and specifically implicate networks of attention related to executive control and selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-20
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Attention
  • Biological motion
  • Correlation
  • Flanker interference
  • Point-light walkers
  • Stroop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Attentional networks and biological motion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this