The movement of faces provides useful information for a variety of tasks and is now an active area of research. We compare here two ways of presenting face motion in experiments: as solid-body animations and as point-light displays. In the first experiment solid-body and point-light animations, based on the same motion-captured marker data, produced similar levels of performance on a sex-judgment task. The trend was for an advantage for the point-light displays, probably in part because of residual spatial cues available in such stimuli. In the second experiment we compared spatially normalised point-light displays of marker data with solid-body animations and pseudorandom point-light animations. Performance with solid-body animations and normalised point-light displays was similar and above chance, while performance with the pseudorandom point-light stimuli was not above chance. We conclude that both relatively few well-placed points and solid-body animations provide useful information about facial motion, but that a greater number of randomly placed points does not support above-chance performance. Solid-body animations have the methodological advantages of reducing the importance of marker placement and are more effective in isolating motion information, even if they are subsequently rendered as point-light displays.
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Hill, HC, Jinno, Y and Johnston, A, Comparing solid body with point-light animations, Perception, 32(5), 2003, p 561-566.