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Infants predict other people's action goals


Do infants come to understand other people's actions through a mirror neuron system that maps an observed action onto motor representations of that action? We demonstrate that a specialized system for action perception guides proactive goal-directed eye movements in 12-month-old but not in 6-month-old infants, providing direct support for this view. The activation of this system requires observing an interaction between the hand of the agent and an object.

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Figure 1: Sample pictures of stimulus videos.
Figure 2: Gaze performance during observation of actions and moving objects.

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This research was supported by grants to C.v.H. from the Tercentennial Fund of the Bank of Sweden (J2004-0511), McDonnell Foundation (21002089), and European Union (EU004370: robot-cub).

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Correspondence to Terje Falck-Ytter.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Table 1

Descriptive statistics; gaze timing relative to moving target (PDF 48 kb)

Supplementary Table 2

Descriptive statistics; gaze timing relative to moving target as a function of action number (within trial) (PDF 49 kb)

Supplementary Table 3

Descriptive statistics; looking time ratio (goal AOI/goal+trajectory AOIs) (PDF 53 kb)

Supplementary Methods (PDF 95 kb)

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Falck-Ytter, T., Gredebäck, G. & von Hofsten, C. Infants predict other people's action goals. Nat Neurosci 9, 878–879 (2006).

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