Discrimination of biomechanically possible and impossible hand movements at birth

Child Dev. Mar-Apr 2015;86(2):632-41. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12329. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gestures
  • Hand*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Posture
  • Visual Perception / physiology*