The development of human body perception has long been investigated, but little is known about its early origins. This study focused on how a body part highly relevant to the human species, namely the hand, is perceived a few days after birth. Using a preferential-looking paradigm, 24- to 48-hr-old newborns watched biomechanically possible and impossible dynamic hand gestures (Experiment 1, N = 15) and static hand postures (Experiment 2, N = 15). In Experiment 1, newborns looked longer at the impossible, compared to the possible, hand movement, whereas in Experiment 2 no visual preference emerged. These findings suggest that early in life the representation of the human body may be shaped by sensory-motor experience.
© 2014 The Authors. Child Development © 2014 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.