Assessing Behavioral and Computational Approaches to Naturalistic Action Segmentation


Recognizing where one action ends and another begins is an automatic and seemingly effortless process that supports understanding of goal-directed action. One characteristic of such action segmentation is that it is hierarchical; it reflects the goals and sub-goals of an actor, which correspond to coarse- and fine-grained action units respectively. We report on the success of one method of assessing hierarchical segmentation of naturalistic footage taken from an extensive corpus of unscripted human action (Speechome project, e.g., Roy et al., 2006). Results indicate that hierarchical segmentation occurs in an on-line fashion, with event boundaries marked by surges in attention that are modulated based on whether a boundary marks a fine, intermediate, or coarse unit. We also describe a method by which objective changes in an actor’s movement can be measured and analyzed as a predictor of participants’ segmentation behaviors. Keywords: action segmentation; event processing

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