Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Information Underpinning Anticipation of Goal-Directed Throwing

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Information Underpinning Anticipation of Goal-Directed Throwing

Article excerpt

Published online: 27 June 2013

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Abstract We identified the information used to anticipate throw direction in handball. In two experiments, we examined how anticipation performance is affected when the information from one of five body areas (right arm, shoulders, hips, trunk, or total throw side) was either neutralized or decoupled from the motion of other body segments. In the first experiment, performance was significantly reduced when information from the throwing arm was neutralized, irrespective of skill levels. Skilled participants were negatively affected when the shoulders, hips, and trunk were neutralized, whereas less-skilled participants showed trends toward improvement under identical conditions. In the second experiment, partially disrupting relative motion via decoupling was not enough to reduce the anticipation performance among skilled participants to chance levels, whereas less-skilled participants lost their ability to anticipate in three conditions. Our findings suggest that skilled and less-skilled participants employ different information extraction strategies, yet information from the throwing arm is critical to anticipation for both groups. The two experiments suggest that relative motion mediated by both the absolute displacement trajectories of individual marker locations and their relative timings are important in informing anticipation, irrespective of skill level.

Keywords Perception · Motion information · Skill

In recent years, methods developed for the study of biological motion perception have enhanced our understanding of how athletes anticipate an opponent's actions. Following on from the seminal work of Gunnar Johansson (1973), researchers have shown that individuals can successfully anticipate when actions are presented as point-light displays (e.g., Abernethy, Gill, Parks, & Packer, 2001; Shim, Chow, Carlton, & Chae, 2005; Ward, Williams, & Bennett, 2002)orstick-figureim- ages (e.g., Huys, Smeeton, Hodges, Beek, & Williams, 2008; Smeeton & Huys 2011; Williams, Huys, Cañal-Bruland, & Hagemann, 2009). Troje (2002) concluded that when perceiv- ing human gait, judgment is informed by the interplay be- tween motion-mediated structural information and true, dynamic biological motion information. It is now well accept- ed that the "motion" component of biological motion is the more informative aspect of the stimuli (see Troje 2008).

The characteristics of the motion component that guide anticipation judgments, including the "types" of motion and their spatial location within a stimulus, are less well defined. Johansson (1973) outlined a perceptual functionality based on the perception of both common motions and the devia- tions of points relative to this "reference" motion. Cutting and Proffitt (1982) suggested a modified model of motion perception that involved a heuristic termed "the minimum principle," according to which motion in the optic array is minimized to its component common or relative motions. Cutting and Proffitt theorized that the initiation of the min- imization process begins with both relative and common motions being minimized. One aspect is minimized before the other, and this first aspect of motion to be minimized serves as the "reference" motion, whereas the second mo- tion component is determined as a "residual." Cutting and Proffitt suggested that in the majority of cases, including the perception of human walking, relative motion is minimized first and forms the basis of the informational value of biological motion (cf. Breslin, Hodges, Williams, Curran, & Kremer, 2005; Troje in press; Williams, Ward, Smeeton, & Allen, 2004).

To identify pertinent motion information, several re- searchers have used the assumption-free analysis technique principal components analysis (PCA). PCA has successfully identified the low-dimensional dynamical structures that capture pertinent motion information (e. …

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