Developmental Science

Cover image for Vol. 18 Issue 2

March 2015

Volume 18, Issue 2

Pages i–ii, 183–350


    1. Top of page
    3. PAPERS
    1. You have free access to this content
      Issue Information (pages i–ii)

      Article first published online: 28 JAN 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12253


    1. Top of page
    3. PAPERS
    1. Numerical representations and intuitions of probabilities at 12 months (pages 183–193)

      Ernő Téglás, Alexandra Ibanez-Lillo, Albert Costa and Luca L. Bonatti

      Article first published online: 17 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12196

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      Recent research shows that the preverbal infants can reason about single event probabilities without relying on observed frequencies and are able to adjust their expectations in accordance to some relevant aspects of a situation. Here we investigate the limits and sophistications of these abilities. We show that infants at 12 months can exploit very specific physical parameters of dynamically unfolding events, such as the density of objects in a display, even if they have to deal with a large set of moving items. However, they may not be able to integrate numerical information about large classes of objects in their probabilistic expectations. Yet, they can to compute probabilities when the set size is within the limit of object tracking abilities. We suggest that infants' intuitions of probabilities may derive from their ability to represent possible states of affairs.

    2. Characterizing the information content of a newly hatched chick's first visual object representation (pages 194–205)

      Justin N. Wood

      Article first published online: 30 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12198

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      This study measured the information content of the first visual object representation built by newly hatched chicks. The results showed that chicks build object representations that contain both object identity information and view-specific information, akin to the object representations built by adult primates. This study indicates that invariant object recognition is a core cognitive ability that can be operational at the onset of visual object experience.

    3. A new twist on old ideas: how sitting reorients crawlers (pages 206–218)

      Kasey C. Soska, Scott R. Robinson and Karen E. Adolph

      Article first published online: 14 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12205

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      During crawling exploration, infants stopped and reverted to a sitting posture 3–6 times per minute—whether at home or in the lab. Sitting with the legs out (90% of sits) caused infants to face away from their crawling path; returning back to crawling often set infants off in a new direction. Natural crawling occurs in brief episodes accompanied by sharply-angled turns.

    4. Fearful faces drive gaze-cueing and threat bias effects in children on the lookout for danger (pages 219–231)

      Amy Dawel, Romina Palermo, Richard O'Kearney, Jessica Irons and Elinor McKone

      Article first published online: 18 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12203

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      We measured gaze-cueing (RTinvalid-direction-trials minus RTvalid-direction-trials) and threat-bias effects from fearful (pictured) and happy faces in a context that required vigilance for danger (decide if a target animal is safe or dangerous; dangerous spider pictured). The ability to prioritize fearful-gaze in the danger-vigilance context emerged over the 8–12-year-old age range. Children also showed an adult-like threat bias for dangerous over safe animals specifically in the context of fearful faces. Overall, our results present some of the first evidence of context-expression interactions in children, and argue that studies of isolated face or threat stimuli may not apply to real-world behavior, in which contextual factors abound.

    5. Two-year-old children but not domestic dogs understand communicative intentions without language, gestures, or gaze (pages 232–242)

      Richard Moore, Bettina Mueller, Juliane Kaminski and Michael Tomasello

      Article first published online: 9 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12206

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      2-year-old children were able to use an experimenter's intentionally pulling on a rope to infer the location of a hidden prize, even though the experimenter did not move or look towards the hiding place. Domestic dogs did not succeed in this task. Children's apparently reduced dependence on bodily expressions of communicative intent may reflect an adaptation for communicating with absent others.

    6. Tuning the developing brain to emotional body expressions (pages 243–253)

      Manuela Missana, Anthony P. Atkinson and Tobias Grossmann

      Article first published online: 11 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12209

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      Reading others' emotional body expressions is an essential social skill. Adults are readily able to recognize emotions from body movements. However, it is unclear when in development infants become sensitive to bodily expressed emotions. In this study ERPs were measured in 4-and 8-month-old infants in response to happy and fearful body expressions using point-light displays (PLDs) presented in two orientations, upright and inverted. The ERP results revealed that only 8-month-olds but not 4-month-olds respond sensitively to the orientation and the emotion of the dynamic expressions. These findings suggest that orientation–sensitive and emotion-sensitive brain processes develop between 4 and 8 months of age.

    7. The N400 and the fourth grade shift (pages 254–269)

      Donna Coch

      Article first published online: 16 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12212

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      In a developmental event-related potential study investigating the putative fourth grade shift in reading, the amplitude of the N400 component elicited by various word-like stimuli did not reflect a shift or discontinuity in word processing around the fourth grade. False font strings elicited N400s similar to real words and letter strings in third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders, but not in college students, suggesting a relatively long developmental time course - beyond fifth grade - for orthographic processing in this context.

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      Baby steps: investigating the development of perceptual–motor couplings in infancy (pages 270–280)

      Carina C.J.M. de Klerk, Mark H. Johnson, Cecilia M. Heyes and Victoria Southgate

      Article first published online: 13 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12226

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      Two decades after the discovery of mirror neurons, the mechanisms underlying their ontogeny remain relatively unknown. It has been suggested that these perceptual-motor couplings in the brain develop through associative learning during correlated sensorimotor experience. We tested this hypothesis by manipulating pre-walking infants’ opportunity to associate the visual and motor representation of novel stepping actions that they performed on an infant treadmill. We then investigated how this influenced their sensorimotor cortex activation when they observed videos of other infants’ stepping actions. Our results show that the strength of the visuomotor contingency experienced during training predicted the amount of sensorimotor cortex activation during action observation.

    9. Parent support is less effective in buffering cortisol stress reactivity for adolescents compared to children (pages 281–297)

      Camelia E. Hostinar, Anna E. Johnson and Megan R. Gunnar

      Article first published online: 18 JUN 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12195

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      Parent support provided in the laboratory during the speech preparation period before a modified Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) successfully eliminated the cortisol stress response to the TSST in 9-10-year-old children, but had no effect on the response among adolescents.

    10. Effects of early institutionalization on the development of emotion processing: a case for relative sparing? (pages 298–313)

      Margaret C. Moulson, Kristin Shutts, Nathan A. Fox, Charles H. Zeanah, Elizabeth S. Spelke and Charles A. Nelson

      Article first published online: 17 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12217

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      We examined emotion processing in three groups of Romanian children with diverse rearing histories. Although children who were institutionalized showed some deficits on tasks of emotion recognition compared to children raised in their biological families, their overall performance was surprisingly good. Previously institutionalized children who had been placed in foster care showed performance comparable to family-reared children. Emotion processing seems relatively spared in the context of early psychosocial deprivation.

    11. Continuity and change in children's longitudinal neural responses to numbers (pages 314–326)

      Robert W. Emerson and Jessica F. Cantlon

      Article first published online: 22 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12215

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      Children's neural responses during numerical discrimination show different longitudinal profiles in the right versus left intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The right IPS shows correlated number-related neural responses over development. The left IPS shows developmental changes in number-related neural responses that correlate with children's numerical acuity.


    1. Top of page
    3. PAPERS
    1. Perceived trustworthiness of faces drives trust behaviour in children (pages 327–334)

      Louise Ewing, Frances Caulfield, Ainsley Read and Gillian Rhodes

      Article first published online: 22 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12218

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      This study uses an economic trust game to investigate the development of human trust behaviour. We reveal that facial trustworthiness cues influence trust behaviour in children as young as 5 years, with adult-like effects observed by 10 years.

    2. Children and adults both see ‘pirates’ in ‘parties’: letter-position effects for developing readers and skilled adult readers (pages 335–343)

      Kevin B. Paterson, Josephine Read, Victoria A. McGowan and Timothy R. Jordan

      Article first published online: 23 JUL 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12222

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      Recognition of anagrams (e.g. pirates, parties) provides insight into the use of letter position during word recognition. We used this approach to compare the use of letter position by developing child readers ( 8–10 years) and skilled adult readers in a naming task. Both groups showed similarly slowed response times (and developing readers increased errors) for anagrams which formed another word when letters in interior positions were transposed and no interference for anagrams that required exterior letter transpositions. The findings suggest that end-state skilled use of letter position, especially the influence of exterior letter positions, is established earlier during reading development than is widely assumed.

    3. Bilingualism changes children's beliefs about what is innate (pages 344–350)

      Krista Byers-Heinlein and Bianca Garcia

      Article first published online: 28 DEC 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12248

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      Young children often believe that human and animal traits are fixed at birth. In the current study, 5–6 year-old sequential bilinguals were less likely than other children to believe that human language, animal vocalizations, and animal physical traits are innate. Early second language education can reduce essentialist biases, and thus might promote the acceptance of human social and physical diversity.