September 22, 3pm, KL 232


Maggie Shiffrar
Assistant Vice President of Graduate Studies at CSUN (formerly at Rutgers)


People Watching: Visual, motor and social processes define human action perception


As inherently social animals, humans must accurately perceive and interpret the movements of other people. What processes underlie this perceptual ability? We now know that the visual analysis of human movement differs from other visual motion analyses. Why might this be so? Human action diverges from other categories of visual motion in at least three ways. First, human movement is the only motion that human observers can both produce and perceive. Second, human motion is the most frequently occurring category of visual motion. Third, human motion carries more social-emotional information than other motion stimuli. A series of behavioral, patient, and brain imaging studies evaluation the impacts of visual, motor and social processes on human action perception.


Maggie Shiffrar has conducted psychophysical research on the visual perception of human action for more than 25 years. She received her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Stanford University and held post-doctoral positions at the University of Paris V and at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, CA. For 23 years she was on the faculty at Rutgers University-Newark as a Professor of Psychology and eventually as Graduate School Dean. She is now the Assistant Vice President of Graduate Studies at California State University-Northridge. Maggie is an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science and has received several international awards for her research.