The real-time link between person perception and action: Brain potential evidence for dynamic continuity

Jonathan B. Freeman, Nalini Ambady, Katherine J. Midgley, Phillip J. Holcomb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Using event-related potentials, we investigated how the brain extracts information from another's face and translates it into relevant action in real time. In Study 1, participants made between-hand sex categorizations of sex-typical and sex-atypical faces. Sex-atypical faces evoked negativity between 250 and 550 ms (N300/N400 effects), reflecting the integration of accumulating sex-category knowledge into a coherent sex-category interpretation. Additionally, the lateralized readiness potential revealed that the motor cortex began preparing for a correct hand response while social category knowledge was still gradually evolving in parallel. In Study 2, participants made between-hand eye-color categorizations as part of go/no-go trials that were contingent on a target's sex. On no-go trials, although the hand did not actually move, information about eye color partially prepared the motor cortex to move the hand before perception of sex had finalized. Together, these findings demonstrate the dynamic continuity between person perception and action, such that ongoing results from face processing are immediately and continuously cascaded into the motor system over time. The preparation of action begins based on tentative perceptions of another's face before perceivers have finished interpreting what they just saw.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-155
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2011

Keywords

  • Action
  • ERPs
  • Face perception
  • Motor processes
  • Person perception
  • Social categorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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