Putting actions in context: Visual action adaptation aftereffects are modulated by social contexts

Stephan De La Rosa, Stephan Streuber, Martin Giese, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Cristóbal Curio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The social context in which an action is embedded provides important information for the interpretation of an action. Is this social context integrated during the visual recognition of an action? We used a behavioural visual adaptation paradigm to address this question and measured participants' perceptual bias of a test action after they were adapted to one of two adaptors (adaptation after-effect). The action adaptation after-effect was measured for the same set of adaptors in two different social contexts. Our results indicate that the size of the adaptation effect varied with social context (social context modulation) although the physical appearance of the adaptors remained unchanged. Three additional experiments provided evidence that the observed social context modulation of the adaptation effect are owed to the adaptation of visual action recognition processes. We found that adaptation is critical for the social context modulation (experiment 2). Moreover, the effect is not mediated by emotional content of the action alone (experiment 3) and visual information about the action seems to be critical for the emergence of action adaptation effects (experiment 4). Taken together these results suggest that processes underlying visual action recognition are sensitive to the social context of an action.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere86502
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 22

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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