Spontaneous recovery and time course of biological motion adaptation


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Abstract

Adaptation to changes of the environment is an essential function of the visual system. Recent studies have revealed that prolonged viewing of a point-light display of a human walker can produce the perception of a point-light walker facing in the opposite direction in a subsequent ambiguous test. Similar effects of biological motion adaptation have been documented for various properties of the point-light walkers. However, the time course and controlling mechanisms for biological motion adaptation have not yet been examined. The present study investigated whether a single mechanism or multiple mechanisms controlled biological motion adaptation. In Experiment 1, a relatively long duration of initial adaptation to one facing direction of a point-light walker was followed by a relatively short duration of deadaptation in which the adapter was a point-light walker of the opposite facing direction. Chimeric ambiguous walkers were used to test the aftereffect in a top-up manner. We observed spontaneous recovery of the adaptation effects in the post-test period. The Experiment 2 further delineated the build-up and decay of biological motion adaptation that accorded well with the duration scaling law (i.e., effects of adaptation become stronger and longer-lasting as adaptation duration increases). Further analysis indicated that the slower but not the faster component of the adaptation effects complied with the law. These findings suggest that biological motion adaptation is controlled by the multiple mechanisms tuned to differing timescales.

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