Action and perception: Neural indices of learning in infants
Yoo Chon, Kathryn Hye Jin
Fox, Nathan A
MetadataShow full item record
Early human development offers a unique perspective in investigating the potential cognitive and social implications of action and perception. Specifically, during infancy, action production and action perception undergo foundational developments. One essential component to examine developments in action processing is the analysis of others’ actions as meaningful and goal-directed. Little research, however, has examined the underlying neural systems that may be associated with emerging action and perception abilities, and infants’ learning of goal-directed actions. The current study examines the mu rhythm—a brain oscillation found in the electroencephalogram (EEG)—that has been associated with action and perception. Specifically, the present work investigates whether the mu signal is related to 9-month-olds’ learning of a novel goal-directed means-end task. The findings of this study demonstrate a relation between variations in mu rhythm activity and infants’ ability to learn a novel goal-directed means-end action task (compared to a visual pattern learning task used as a comparison task). Additionally, we examined the relations between standardized assessments of early motor competence, infants’ ability to learn a novel goal-directed task, and mu rhythm activity. We found that: 1a) mu rhythm activity during observation of a grasp uniquely predicted infants’ learning on the cane training task, 1b) mu rhythm activity during observation and execution of a grasp did not uniquely predict infants’ learning on the visual pattern learning task (comparison learning task), 2) infants’ motor competence did not predict infants’ learning on the cane training task, 3) mu rhythm activity during observation and execution was not related to infants’ measure of motor competence, and 4) mu rhythm activity did not predict infants’ learning on the cane task above and beyond infants’ motor competence. The results from this study demonstrate that mu rhythm activity is a sensitive measure to detect individual differences in infants’ action and perception abilities, specifically their learning of a novel goal-directed action.