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Understanding EventsFrom Perception to Action$
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Thomas F. Shipley and Jeffrey M. Zacks

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195188370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195188370.001.0001

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Animacy and Intention in the Brain: Neuroscience of Social Event Perception

Animacy and Intention in the Brain: Neuroscience of Social Event Perception

Chapter:
(p.363) 14 Animacy and Intention in the Brain: Neuroscience of Social Event Perception
Source:
Understanding Events
Author(s):

Andrea S. Heberlein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195188370.003.0016

This chapter examines a set of related concepts, including judgments of animacy, judgments of agency or intentionality, and anthropomorphizing, focusing on the functional neuroanatomy of each process. Anthropomorphizing can be viewed as an illusion: stimuli possessing certain features appear to automatically elicit attributions of mental states and other qualities associated with people, in the face of declarative knowledge that the stimuli are not only not human but, in many cases, inanimate. Studies of illusions are particularly useful in revealing the organization of perceptual processes. The chapter considers studies of anthropomorphizing — that is, the attribution of personhood and person-related features such as emotions, intentions, personality traits, and beliefs to inanimate objects. It gives particular attention to the neural circuitry underlying social attributions based on the kind of minimal stimuli described above, relating these findings to other social processes in which the same neural regions have been implicated. Finally, it proposes a framework relating judgments of animacy, agency or goal, and emotion.

Keywords:   ambiguous motion stimuli, agency, anthropomorphizing, personhood, animacy, goal

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