Laura Fademrecht


Picture of Fademrecht, Laura

Laura Fademrecht

Position: Research Scientist  Unit: Alumni Bülthoff

Peripheral vision and action recognition


Laura Fademrecht, Isabelle Bülthoff and Stephan de la Rosa

Research Group: Recognition and Categorization (RecCat)



Humans are social beings that need to interpret the behavior of others in order to get a sense of how they are feeling and to interact appropriately with them. Much of the action related visual information that impinges on the retina falls outside the fovea. This peripherally presented action information is critical for understanding for example crowd behavior. Relatively little is known about the human ability to recognize social actions in the visual periphery.



Our aim is to get first insights into the perception of social actions in the periphery. We investigate the influence of emotional valence and the viewer’s perspective on the recognition of actions in far periphery and foveal vision.


Image of the experimental setup
Figure 1. The wide screen display used in the experiments covering 230° of the visual field horizontally and 125° vertically.


A life-size stick figure avatar carried out one of six motion captured actions, displayed on a panoramic screen. During the experiment participants had to fixate a cross in the middle of the screen while the stick figure appeared at different positions (0°, 15°, 30°, 45° and 60° eccentricity either left or right) in the participant’s visual field. Participants either evaluated the emotional valence of the action or categorized them on a basic level of recognition or on a sub-ordinate level of recognition. In a second study the viewer’s perspective was varied from second-person perspective to a third-person perspective.



Initial results

These studies showed that even at far eccentricities up to 60° participants were highly accurate in recognizing the actions of another person (Figure 2). A linear decline of accuracy with eccentricity was found in the sub-ordinate level task. In the basic level and the valence evaluation tasks accuracy did not decrease up to 45° eccentricity. A higher accuracy for positive than for negative emotional valence was visible in the sub-ordinate level task. The measured reaction times indicate that valence evaluation is superior to semantic categorization, leading to shorter reaction times than both semantic tasks. Surprisingly the third-person perspective led to shorter reaction times than the second-person perspective, presumably due to the choice of actions that were more visible in the third person perspective.


Image of the experimental results
Figure 2. Reaction times as a function of recognition task and eccentricity.

Initial conclusion

The recognition of the emotional valence occurs faster than the semantic categorization of the action, which contradicts the results of Calvo et al. in scene categorization in the periphery [1]. Furthermore, our results clearly show that under more ecological viewing conditions the recognition of another person’s actions is possible even in far periphery using life-size stimuli.



1.      Calvo, Avero, Nummenmaa (2011) primacy of emotional vs. semantic scene recognition in peripheral vision, Cognition and emotion 25 1358-1375.







PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Germany

2007 - 2012

Studies of Technical Biology at the University of Stuttgart, Germany;

Grade: German Diplom (equivalent to a Master's degree)

1998 - 2007 Bildungszentrum-Reutlingen -Nord, Germany; Abitur (University entrance qualification)

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Books (1):

Fademrecht L: Action Recognition in the Visual Periphery, 143, Logos Verlag, Berlin, Germany, (2017). ISBN: 978-3-8325-4448-5, Series: MPI Series in Biological Cybernetics ; 48

Articles (2):

Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (June-2017) Action recognition is viewpoint-dependent in the visual periphery Vision Research 135 10–15.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (February-2016) Action recognition in the visual periphery Journal of Vision 16(3:33) 1-14.

Conference papers (1):

Fademrecht L, Meilinger T, Steuber S, Saulton A, Bülthoff HH, Cañal-Bruland R and de la Rosa S (July-2017) Interaction with a robot changes human motor behavior In: Computational Foundations of Cognition, , 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017), Cognitive Science Society, Austin, TX, USA, 3702.

Posters (11):

Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (May-23-2017): The bigger the better: also true for action recognition?, 17th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2017), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff HH and de la Rosa S (August-29-2016): Visual processes dominate perception and action during social interactions, 39th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2016), Barcelona, Spain, Perception, 45(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 65.
Meilinger T, Strickrodt M, Hinterecker T, Chang D-S, Saulton A, Fademrecht L and de la Rosa S (July-27-2016): Using Virtual Reality to Examine Social and Spatial Cognition, Virtual Environments: Current Topics in Psychological Research: VECTOR Workshop, Tübingen, Germany.
Fademrecht L, Nieuwenhuis J, Bülthoff I, Barraclough N and de la Rosa S (May-14-2016): Does action recognition suffer in a crowded environment?, 16th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2016), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 16(12) 280.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I, Barraclough NE and de la Rosa S (October-18-2015): The spatial extent of action sensitive perceptual channels decrease with visual eccentricity, 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2015), Chicago, IL, USA.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (September-2015): Recognition of static and dynamic social actions in the visual periphery, 15th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2015), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 15(12) 494.
Fademrecht L, Barraclough NE, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (August-2015): Seeing actions in the fovea influences subsequent action recognition in the periphery, 38th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2015), Liverpool, UK, Perception, 44(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 214.
de la Rosa S, Wahn Y, Bülthoff HH, Fademrecht L, Saulton A, Meilinger T and Chang D-S (July-2-2015): Does the two streams hypothesis hold for joint actions?, 6th Joint Action Meeting (JAM 2015), Budapest, Hungary.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (August-2014): A matter of perspective: action recognition depends on stimulus orientation in the periphery, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia, Perception, 43(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 103.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (June-2014): Peripheral Vision and Action Recognition, 6th International Conference on Brain and Cognitive Engineering (BCE 2014), Tübingen, Germany.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (May-20-2014): Influence of eccentricity on action recognition, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 14(10) 1006.

Talks (2):

Fademrecht L, Meilinger T, Streuber S, Bülthoff HH, Cañal-Bruland R and de la Rosa S (July-6-2017) Abstract Talk: How Robots Can Affect Human Motor Behavior, 3rd International Workshop on Virtual Social Interaction (VSI 2017), Bielefeld, Germany.
Fademrecht L, de la Rosa S and Bülthoff HH (March-28-2017) Abstract Talk: Perception and action in social interactions are based upon the visual but not motor system, 59th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP 2017), Dresden, Germany 169-170.

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Last updated: Monday, 22.05.2017