Perceptual-cognitive training improves biological motion perception: evidence for transferability of training in healthy aging

Neuroreport. 2012 May 30;23(8):469-73. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328353e48a.


In our everyday life, processing complex dynamic scenes such as crowds and traffic is of critical importance. Further, it is well documented that there is an age-related decline in complex perceptual-cognitive processing, which can be reversed with training. It has been suggested that a specific dynamic scene perceptual-cognitive training procedure [the three-dimensional multiple object tracking speed task (3D-MOT)] helps observers manage socially relevant stimuli such as human body movements as seen in crowds or during sports activities. Here, we test this assertion by assessing whether training older observers on 3D-MOT can improve biological motion (BM) perception. Research has shown that healthy older adults require more distance in virtual space between themselves and a point-light walker to integrate BM information than younger adults. Their performances decreased markedly at a distance as far away as 4 m (critical for collision avoidance), whereas performance in young adults remained constant up to 1 m. We trained observers between 64 and 73 years of age on the 3D-MOT speed task and looked at BM perception at 4 and 16 m distances in virtual space. We also had a control group trained on a visual task and a third group without training. The perceptual-cognitive training eliminated the difference in BM perception between 4 and 16 m after only a few weeks, whereas the two control groups showed no transfer. This demonstrates that 3D-MOT training could be a good generic process for helping certain observers deal with socially relevant dynamic scenes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Transfer, Psychology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*