Testing the role of evolutionary threat on speed perception: Evidence from predictive tracking Open Access

Rosenthal, Adi (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/nk322d538?locale=en


Research with human and non-human primates suggests specialized visual processing of evolutionary-based threats (e.g., Öhman & Mineka, 2001). For instance, human adults and infants underestimate the arrival time of looming animals that are evolutionarily threatening to a greater degree than those that are non-threatening (Ayzenberg, Longo, & Lourenco, 2015; Vagoni, Lourenco, & Longo, 2012). However, it is unclear what accounts for the relationship between threat and visual perception. In the current study, we used a predictive tracking paradigm to determine whether the perceived speed of laterally moving images differed depending on the threat value. Thirty-three infants (8- to 11-month-olds) were presented with horizontally moving images of threatening and non-threatening animals. A portion of the movement trajectory was covered in the center by an occluder, which has been shown to elicit predictive tracking (i.e., infants anticipate the reappearance of the image). Although we found that infants' anticipatory looking behaviors were modulated by the speed of the animal, we did not find evidence that the threat value of the images modulated these behaviors. These data are discussed in the context of threat perception and peripersonal space.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Methods 6

Results 8

Discussion 10

References 14

Figures 18

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