Title

Holistic Processing for Bodies and Body Parts: New Evidence from Stereoscopic Depth Manipulations

Student Co-author

CMC Undergraduate

Document Type

Article

Department

Psychology (CMC)

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

Although holistic processing has been documented extensively for upright faces, it is unclear whether it occurs for other visual categories with more extensive substructure, such as body postures. Like faces, body postures have high social relevance, but they differ in having fine-grain organization not only of basic parts (e.g., arm) but also subparts (e.g., elbow, wrist, hand). To compare holistic processing for whole bodies and body parts, we employed a novel stereoscopic depth manipulation that creates either the percept of a whole body occluded by a set of bars, or of segments of a body floating in front of a background. Despite sharing low-level visual properties, only the stimulus perceived as being behind bars should be holistically “filled in” via amodal completion. In two experiments, we tested for better identification of individual body parts within the context of a body versus in isolation. Consistent with previous findings, recognition of body parts was better in the context of a whole body when the body was amodally completed behind occluders. However, when the same bodies were perceived as floating in strips, performance was significantly worse, and not significantly different, from that for amodally completed parts, supporting holistic processing of body postures. Intriguingly, performance was worst for parts in the frontal depth condition, suggesting that these effects may extend from gross body organization to a more local level. These results provide suggestive evidence that holistic representations may not be “all-or-none,” but rather also operate on body regions of more limited spatial extent.

Rights Information

© 2016 Psychonomic Society, Inc.