Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Point Light Displays

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_663-1



A point light display is an experimental paradigm. Instead of presenting the moving body, it only displays the movements of a few landmarks on the body, typically as white points against a dark background.


Point light displays, usually referred to as “point light biological motion” or simply “biological motion” (see also the chapter on “Biological Motion”), have enjoyed a rich research tradition since the 1970s and have been widely applied. Fields of application involve experimental psychology, cognitive development, primate cognition, neurology, pain research, and action perception. Using point light displays in research studies is attractive, first because they are easy to generate and manipulate computationally and, second, because they allow the study of the visual perception of biological movement without the rich visual context that is typical of movies.




Point-light Display Point-light Biological Motion Visual Detection Task Superior Temporal Sulcus (STS) Show Courtship Behavior 
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Supplementary material

Video 1

(MP4 347 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Movement ScienceUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Otto Creutzfeldt Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (OCC)MünsterGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Khalil Iskarous
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA