Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 5, pp 1409–1420 | Cite as

Emotional cues and social anxiety resolve ambiguous perception of biological motion

  • Hörmet Yiltiz
  • Lihan Chen
Research Article


Perceptions of ambiguous biological motion are modulated by different individual cognitive abilities (such as inhibition and empathy) and emotional states (such as anxiety). This study explored facing-the-viewer bias (FTV) in perceiving ambiguous directions of biological motion, and investigated whether task-irrelevant simultaneous face emotional cues in the background and the individual social anxiety traits could affect FTV. We found that facial motion cues as background affect sociobiologically relevant scenarios, including biological motion, but not non-biological situations (conveyed through random dot motion). Individuals with high anxiety traits demonstrated a more dominant FTV bias than individuals with low anxiety traits. Ensemble coding-like processing of task-irrelevant multiple emotional cues could magnify the facing-the-viewer bias than did in the single emotional cue. Overall, those findings suggest a correlation between high-level emotional processing and high-level motion perception (subjective to attentional control) contributes to facing-the-viewer bias.


Biological motion Emotion Social anxiety Ambiguity Visual perception Ensemble coding Facing-the-viewer bias 



This work is funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC61527804, 81371206) and was partially funded by NSFC and the German Research Foundation (DFG) in Project Crossmodal Learning, NSFC 61621136008/DFG TRR-169.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences and Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental HealthPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Machine Perception (Ministry of Education)Peking UniversityBeijingChina

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