Infants' knowledge of their own species

Heron-Delaney, Michelle, Wirth, Sylvia and Pascalis, Olivier (2011) Infants' knowledge of their own species. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, 366 1571: 1753-1763. doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0371

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Author Heron-Delaney, Michelle
Wirth, Sylvia
Pascalis, Olivier
Title Infants' knowledge of their own species
Journal name Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B - Biological Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0962-8436
Publication date 2011-06-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rstb.2010.0371
Volume 366
Issue 1571
Start page 1753
End page 1763
Total pages 11
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Abstract Recognition of individuals at first sight is important for social species and can be achieved by attending to facial or body information. Previous research suggests that infants possess a perceptual template for evolutionarily relevant stimuli, which may include humans, dangerous animals (e.g. snakes), but not non-dangerous animals. To be effective, such a mechanism should result in a systematic preference for attending to humans over non-dangerous animals. Using a preferential looking paradigm, the present studies investigated the nature of infants’ early representation of humans. We show that 3.5- and six-month-old infants attend more to human beings than nonhuman primates (a gorilla or monkey) which are examplars of non-dangerous animals. This occurred when infants were presented with head or body information in isolation, as well as when both are presented simultaneously. This early preference for humans by 3.5 months of age suggests that there is a basic representation for humans, which includes both head and/or body information. However, neonates demonstrated a preference only for human faces over nonhuman primate faces, not for humans over non-human primates when the stimuli were presented with both head and body simultaneously. The results show that although neonates display a preference for human faces over others, preference for the human body only develops later, in the first few months of life. This suggests that infants have acquired some knowledge about the human body at 3.5 months of age that may have developed from their privileged experience with other humans in the first few months of life, rather than an innate ability to detect humans in their entirety.
Keyword Face
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes This is a Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (CONROD) publication

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 21 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 08 Aug 2011, 15:03:54 EST by Chesne McGrath on behalf of Medicine - Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital