First-Person Action Experience Reveals Sensitivity to Action Efficiency in Prereaching Infants

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First-Person Action Experience Reveals Sensitivity to Action Efficiency in Prereaching Infants

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Title: First-Person Action Experience Reveals Sensitivity to Action Efficiency in Prereaching Infants
Author: Spelke, Elizabeth S.; Skerry, Amy; Carey, Susan E.

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Skerry, A. E., S. E. Carey, and E. S. Spelke. 2013. “First-Person Action Experience Reveals Sensitivity to Action Efficiency in Prereaching Infants.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (46) (October 28): 18728–18733. doi:10.1073/pnas.1312322110. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1312322110.
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Abstract: Do infants learn to interpret others’ actions through their own experience producing goal-directed action, or does some knowledge of others’ actions precede first-person experience? Several studies report that motor experience enhances action understanding, but the nature of this effect is not well understood. The present research investigates what is learned during early motoric production, and it tests whether knowledge of goal-directed actions, including an assumption that actors maximize efficiency given environmental constraints, exists before experience producing such actions. Three-month-old infants (who cannot yet effectively reach for and grasp objects) were given novel experience retrieving objects that rested on a surface with no barriers. They were then shown an actor reaching for an object over a barrier and tested for sensitivity to the efficiency of the action. These infants showed heightened attention when the agent reached inefficiently for a goal object; in contrast, infants who lacked successful reaching experience did not differentiate between direct and indirect reaches. Given that the infants could reach directly for objects during training and were given no opportunity to update their actions based on environmental constraints, the training experience itself is unlikely to have provided a basis for learning about action efficiency. We suggest that infants apply a general assumption of efficient action as soon as they have sufficient information (possibly derived from their own action experience) to identify an agent’s goal in a given instance.
Published Version: 10.1073/pnas.1312322110
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13041453
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