The development of infant sensitivity to biomechanical motions

Child Dev. 1985 Jun;56(3):531-43.


3 experiments were conducted to examine infant sensitivity at 20, 30, and 36 weeks of age to the 3-dimensional structure of a human form specified through biomechanical motions. All 3 experiments manipulated occlusion information in computer-generated arrays of point-lights moving as if attached to the major joints and head of a person walking. These displays are readily recognized as persons by adults when occlusion information is present, but not when it is absent or inconsistent with the implicit structure of the human body. Converging findings from Experiments 1 and 2 suggested that 36-week-old infants were sensitive to the presence of occlusion information in point-light walker displays; neither 20- nor 30-week-old infants showed any sensitivity to this information. The results of Experiment 3 revealed further that 36-week-old infants were sensitive to whether or not the pattern of occlusion was consistent with the implicit form of the human body, but only when the displays were presented in an upright orientation. These findings are interpreted as suggesting that infants, by 36 weeks of age, are extracting fundamental properties necessary for interpreting a point-light display as a person.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child Development*
  • Depth Perception
  • Form Perception
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Motion Perception*
  • Psychology, Child*