Laura Fademrecht, PhD Student
Hometown: Reutlingen, Germany
What are you working on?
I am investigating the recognition of another person's actions in central and peripheral vision with a behavioral approach. I am trying to understand the underlying processes in the brain that are involved when we perceive the movements of another person.
How are you going to find out?
I use a virtual reality setup, a large panoramic screen. Thereby we can simulate more realistic conditions (e.g. life size, far visual periphery, human movements) than with a simple computer desktop (as usually used for such experiments). Participants experience an avatar that carries out different actions and report what they recognized.
Why is it interesting?
The recognition of human actions is usually investigated in foveal vision, which amounts only 2° of the visual field. In real life however, we perceive actions usually somewhere around us and not only at our point of fixation. If we want to know how we perceive actions in real life, we need to understand how actions are recognized throughout the entire visual field.
What's the most amazing thing you have found out so far?
People are surprisingly good at recognizing actions even in their far visual periphery, whether the actions are dynamic or static (simply a static picture of an action). The results of our studies indicate that the recognition of actions in the periphery differs from object recognition, which deteriorates faster towards the periphery.