Global form and motion processing in healthy ageing

Hannah C Agnew, Louise H Phillips, Karin S Pilz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


The ability to perceive biological motion has been shown to deteriorate with age, and it is assumed that older adults rely more on the global form than local motion information when processing point-light walkers. Further, it has been suggested that biological motion processing in ageing is related to a form-based global processing bias. Here, we investigated the relationship between older adults’ preference for form information when processing point-light actions and an age-related form-based global processing bias. In a first task, we asked older (> 60 years) and younger adults (19 - 23 years) to sequentially match three different point-light actions; normal actions that contained local motion and global form information, scrambled actions that contained primarily local motion information, and random-position actions that contained primarily global form information. Both age groups overall performed above chance in all three conditions, and were more accurate for actions that contained global form information. For random-position actions, older adults were less accurate than younger adults but there was no age-difference for normal or scrambled actions. These results indicate that both age groups rely more on global form than local motion to match point-light actions, but can use local motion on its own to match point-light actions. In a second task, we investigated form-based global processing biases using the Navon task. In general, participants were better at discriminating the local letters but faster at discriminating global letters. Correlations showed that there was no significant linear relationship between performance in the Navon task and biological motion processing, which suggests that processing biases in form- and motion-based tasks are unrelated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-20
Number of pages9
JournalActa Psychologica
Early online date31 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • biological motion
  • ageing
  • Navon task
  • global/local processing


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