Action recognition is sensitive to the identity of the actor

Ylva Ferstl, Heinrich Bulthoff, Stephan de la Rosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Recognizing who is carrying out an action is essential for successful human interaction. The cognitive mechanisms underlying this ability are little understood and have been subject of discussions in embodied approaches to action recognition. Here we examine one solution, that visual action recognition processes are at least partly sensitive to the actor's identity. We investigated the dependency between identity information and action related processes by testing the sensitivity of neural action recognition processes to clothing and facial identity information with a behavioral adaptation paradigm. Our results show that action adaptation effects are in fact modulated by both clothing information and the actor's facial identity. The finding demonstrates that neural processes underlying action recognition are sensitive to identity information (including facial identity) and thereby not exclusively tuned to actions. We suggest that such response properties are useful to help humans in knowing who carried out an action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-206
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Action recognition
  • Embodiment
  • Identity recognition
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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