Causality attribution biases oculomotor responses.


When viewing one object move after being struck by another, humans perceive that the action of the first object "caused" the motion of the second, not that the two events occurred independently. Although established as a perceptual and linguistic concept, it is not yet known whether the notion of causality exists as a fundamental, preattentional "Gestalt" that can influence predictive motor processes. Therefore, eye movements of human observers were measured while viewing a display in which a launcher impacted a tool to trigger the motion of a second "reaction" target. The reaction target could move either in the direction predicted by transfer of momentum after the collision ("causal") or in a different direction ("noncausal"), with equal probability. Control trials were also performed with identical target motion, either with a 100 ms time delay between the collision and reactive motion, or without the interposed tool. Subjects made significantly more predictive movements (smooth pursuit and saccades) in the causal direction during standard trials, and smooth pursuit latencies were also shorter overall. These trends were reduced or absent in control trials. In addition, pursuit latencies in the noncausal direction were longer during standard trials than during control trials. The results show that causal context has a strong influence on predictive movements.

DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1733-10.2010

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@article{Badler2010CausalityAB, title={Causality attribution biases oculomotor responses.}, author={Jeremy B. Badler and Philippe Lef{\`e}vre and Marcus Missal}, journal={The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience}, year={2010}, volume={30 31}, pages={10517-25} }