Certain simple visual displays consisting of moving 2-D geometric shapes can give rise to percepts with high-level properties such as causality and animacy. This article reviews recent research on such phenomena, which began with the classic work of Michotte and of Heider and Simmel. The importance of such phenomena stems in part from the fact that these interpretations seem to be largely perceptual in nature - to be fairly fast, automatic, irresistible and highly stimulus driven - despite the fact that they involve impressions typically associated with higher-level cognitive processing. This research suggests that just as the visual system works to recover the physical structure of the world by inferring properties such as 3-D shape, so too does it work to recover the causal and social structure of the world by inferring properties such as causality and animacy. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience