Signature movements lead to efficient search for threatening actions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


The ability to find and evade fighting persons in a crowd is potentially life-saving. To investigate how the visual system processes threatening actions, we employed a visual search paradigm with threatening boxer targets among emotionally-neutral walker distractors, and vice versa. We found that a boxer popped out for both intact and scrambled actions, whereas walkers did not. A reverse correlation analysis revealed that observers' responses clustered around the time of the "punch", a signature movement of boxing actions, but not around specific movements of the walker. These findings support the existence of a detector for signature movements in action perception. This detector helps in rapidly detecting aggressive behavior in a crowd, potentially through an expedited (sub)cortical threat-detection mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere37085
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2012
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Signature movements lead to efficient search for threatening actions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this