Simulation from Schematics: Dorsal Stream Processing and the Perception of Implied Motion


Schematic language (e.g., prepositions) and depictions (e.g., line drawings) reduce the rich detail of the visual world to a coarser level of description. We investigated how these schematic forms may be represented in the brain. Recent neural evidence suggests that such representations may be computed in the dorsal pathway of the visual system, the same pathway involved in processing motion, including simulated motion in static scenes. Drawing on this association, we examined the stimulus conditions and mental sets that give rise to simulation, and by hypothesis, representations in the dorsal stream. Simulated motion was evident for scenes that were highly schematic, as opposed to highly realistic (Experiment 1), and when realistic scenes were processed schematically (Experiment 2). The results suggest that dorsal stream representations capture the schematic aspects of visual experience, rather than more fine-grained information. In affording simulation, these representations may facilitate certain types of reasoning and inference.

Back to Table of Contents