Ellie's paper on visual perspective taking made a big splash!

The study has been extensively covered in Irish Times, Science News, BT Online, YahooNews, and many others...

Ian Apperly wrote a lovely spotlight article in Trends in Cognitive Science on our study… and it received a F1000prime recommendation by Stephen M Fleming!

Reference to the paper: Ward, E., Ganis, G., Bach, P. (2019). Spontaneous Vicarious Perception of the Content of Another’s Visual Perspective. Current Biology. Publisher PDFData

 

Ellie's 1st paper is out -- published today in Current Biology

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Spontaneous vicarious perception of the content of another’s visual perspective

Visual perspective taking (VPT) is a core process of social cognition, providing humans with insights into how the environment looks from another’s point of view [1-4]. While VPT is often described as a quasi-perceptual phenomenon [5,6], evidence for this proposal has been lacking. Here we provide direct evidence that another’s perspective can “stand in” for own sensory input perceptual decision-making. In a variant of the classic mental rotation task, participants judged whether characters presented in different orientations were canonical or mirror-inverted. In the absence of another person, we replicate the well-established positive linear relationship between recognition times and angle of orientation, such that recognition becomes slower the more an item has to be mentally rotated into its canonical orientation [18]. Importantly, this relationship was disrupted simply by placing another individual in the scene. Items rotated away from the participant were recognised more rapidly not only the closer they appeared in their canonical orientation to the participant but also to this other individual, showing that another’s visual perspective drives mental rotation and item recognition in a similar way as one’s own. The effects were large and replicated in the three independent studies. They were observed even when the other person was completely passive, enhanced for explicit instructions to perspective-take, but reduced when the persons in the scenes were replaced with objects. The content of another’s perspective is therefore spontaneously derived, takes a quasi-perceptual form, and can stand in for own sensory input during perceptual decision-making.

Ward, E., Ganis, G., Bach, P. (2019). Spontaneous Vicarious Perception of the Content of Another’s Visual Perspective. Current Biology. Publisher PDFData

See below for a video of Ellie explaining the main findings. Or go here for a more in depth explanation of the study’s background and findings.




That's a first: our paper made the front page of reddit!

Check out the very lively commentary here. Further coverage at EurekaAlertBusiness Standard, and Deccan Chronicle, and in the local Plymouth Herald:

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Reference to the paper: Hudson, M., McDonough, K. L., Edwards, R., & Bach, P. (2018). Perceptual teleology: expectations of action efficiency bias social perception. Proc. R. Soc. B285(1884), 20180638. 
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Katrina McDonough's first paper from her PhD is out, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biology

 

Perceptual teleology: expectations of action efficiency bias social perception

Primates interpret conspecific behaviour as goal-directed and expect others to achieve goals by the most efficient means possible. While this teleological stance is prominent in evolutionary and developmental theories of social cognition, little is known about the underlying mechanisms. In predictive models of social cognition, a perceptual prediction of an ideal efficient trajectory would be generated from prior knowledge against which the observed action is evaluated, distorting the perception of unexpected inefficient actions. To test this, participants observed an actor reach for an object with a straight or arched trajectory on a touch screen. The actions were made efficient or inefficient by adding or removing an obstructing object. The action disappeared mid-trajectory and participants touched the last seen screen position of the hand. Judgements of inefficient actions were biased towards the efficient prediction (straight trajectories upward to avoid the obstruction, arched trajectories downward towards the target). These corrections increased when the obstruction's presence/absence was explicitly acknowledged, and when the efficient trajectory was explicitly predicted. Additional supplementary experiments demonstrated that these biases occur during ongoing visual perception and/or immediately after motion offset. The teleological stance is at least partly perceptual, providing an ideal reference trajectory against which actual behaviour is evaluated.

Hudson, M., McDonough, K. L., Edwards, R., & Bach, P. (2018). Perceptual teleology: expectations of action efficiency bias social perception. Proc. R. Soc. B285(1884), 20180638. Publisher -- PDF -- Data

Extensive press coverage of James' paper

The study has been extensively covered in Business Insider and the Daily Mail. Further coverage in The University Network, Elite Daily, New Zealand Herald, Science Daily and others...

Reference to the paper: Colton, J., Bach, P., Whalley, B., & Mitchell, C. J. (2018). Intention insertion: activating an action’s perceptual consequences is sufficient to induce non-willed motor behaviour. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Publisher -- PDF -- Data

 

James Colton's first paper from his PhD is out, in JEP:General!

Intention insertion: activating an action’s perceptual consequences is sufficient to induce non-willed motor behaviour.

It feels intuitive that our actions are intentional, but there is considerable debate about whether (and how) humans control their motor behavior. Recent ideomotor theories of action argue that action intentions are fundamentally perceptual, that actions are not only controlled by anticipating—imagining—their intended perceptual consequences, but are also initiated when this action effect activation is strong. Here, the authors report a study (plus a replication) that provides direct evidence for this proposal, showing that even nonintended actions are executed when their effects are activated strongly enough. Participants mentally rehearsed a movement sequence and were unexpectedly presented with salient visual cues that were either compatible or incompatible with their currently imagined action. As predicted by ideomotor theories, the combined activation through imagery and perception was sufficient to trigger involuntary actions, even when participants were forewarned and asked to withhold them. Ideomotor cues, therefore, do not only influence preplanned responses but can effectively insert intentions to act, creating behavior de novo, as predicted from ideomotor theories of action control.

Colton, J., Bach, P., Whalley, B., & Mitchell, C. J. (2018). Intention insertion: activating an action’s perceptual consequences is sufficient to induce non-willed motor behaviour. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Publisher -- PDF -- Data

Imagery in Action at the ESRC Festival of Social Science

Patric teamed up with Linda Solbrig for an event about how people can better control their behaviour. Lots of hands on demos: take part in hypnosis demonstrations, play with a "psychic" pendulum and the Ouija Board, and learn how to achieve your long term goals. Event hosted by Plymouth University academics Patric Bach and Linda Solbrig, on Saturday 4th of November, in the central library:

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New paper!

Testing the Motor Simulation Account of Source Errors for Actions in Recall

Observing someone else perform an action can lead to false memories of self-performance – the observation inflation effect. One explanation is that action simulation via mirror neuron activation during action observation is responsible for observation inflation by enriching memories of observed actions with motor representations. In three experiments we investigated this account of source memory failures, using a novel paradigm that minimized influences of verbalization and prior object knowledge. Participants worked in pairs to take turns acting out geometric shapes and letters. The next day, participants recalled either actions they had performed or those they had observed. Experiment 1 showed that participants falsely retrieved observed actions as self-performed, but also retrieved self-performed actions as observed. Experiment 2 showed that preventing participants from encoding observed actions motorically by taxing their motor system with a concurrent motor task did not lead to the predicted decrease in false claims of self-performance. Indeed, Experiment 3 showed that this was the case even if participants were asked to carefully monitor their recall. Because our data provide no evidence for a motor activation account, we also discussed our results in light of a source monitoring account.

Lange, N., Hollins, T.J., Bach, P. (2017). Testing the Motor Simulation Account of Source Errors for Actions in Recall. Frontiers in Psychology. Publisher -- PDF