Developmental Science

Cover image for Vol. 19 Issue 2

March 2016

Volume 19, Issue 2

Pages 177–337

  1. Issue Information

    1. Top of page
    2. Issue Information
    3. PAPERS
    1. You have free access to this content
      Issue Information (pages 177–178)

      Article first published online: 2 FEB 2016 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12362


    1. Top of page
    2. Issue Information
    3. PAPERS
    1. Cumulative risk disparities in children's neurocognitive functioning: a developmental cascade model (pages 179–194)

      Mark Wade, Dillon T. Browne, Andre Plamondon, Ella Daniel and Jennifer M. Jenkins

      Article first published online: 6 APR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12302

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      This study shows that social cognition at 18 months is associated with children's theory of mind and executive functioning at age 4.5, and that these effects operate through their language skills at age 3. This mechanism operates similarly for children from both low and high cumulative risk backgrounds. However, high-risk children show lower overall neurocognitive skill development, suggesting that early identification and intervention is important to mitigate the negative downstream consequences of neurocognitive morbidity.

    2. Infants’ grip strength predicts mu rhythm attenuation during observation of lifting actions with weighted blocks (pages 195–207)

      Michaela B. Upshaw, Raphael A. Bernier and Jessica A. Sommerville

      Article first published online: 1 MAY 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12308

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Research has established that bodily experience influences activation of the shared neural system underlying action perception and production; however, whether bodily characteristics influence action perception and its underlying neural system is unknown. We measured grip strength in 12-month-old infants and investigated relations with mu rhythm attenuation, an electroencephalographic correlate of the neural system underlying action perception, during observation of lifting actions performed with differently weighted blocks. We found that infants with higher grip strength exhibited significant mu attenuation during observation of lifting actions, whereas infants with lower grip strength did not. Moreover, a progressively strong relation between grip strength and mu attenuation during observation of lifts was found with increased block weight.

    3. Three-year-olds express suspense when an agent approaches a scene with a false belief (pages 208–220)

      Henrike Moll, Sarah Kane and Luke McGowan

      Article first published online: 1 MAY 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12310

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Research on early false belief understanding has entirely relied on affect-neutral measures such as judgments (standard tasks), attentional allocation (looking duration, preferential looking, anticipatory looking), or active intervention. We used a novel, affective measure to test whether preschoolers affectively anticipate another?s misguided acts. In two experiments, 3-year-olds showed more expressions of suspense (by, e.g. brow furrowing or lip biting) when they saw an agent approach a scene with a false as opposed to a true belief (Experiment 1) or ignorance (Experiment 2). This shows that the children anticipated the agent?s surprise and disappointment when encountering reality. The findings suggest that early implicit knowledge of false beliefs includes anticipations of the affective implications of erring. This vital dimension of beliefs should no longer be ignored in research on early theory of mind.

    4. Hot executive function following moderate-to-late preterm birth: altered delay discounting at 4 years of age (pages 221–234)

      Amanda S. Hodel, Jane E. Brumbaugh, Alyssa R. Morris and Kathleen M. Thomas

      Article first published online: 14 APR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12307

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Preschool-aged children born moderate-to-late preterm (32–36 weeks gestation) were less likely to choose larger, delayed rewards on a delay discounting task, but performed more similarly to their full-term peers on a delay aversion task involving abstract rewards and on measures of cool executive functioning. Results imply children born moderate-to-late preterm may be at increased risk for atypical development of reward processing and/or hot executive function, potentially due to early differences in prefrontal cortex development.

    5. Preschoolers use phrasal prosody online to constrain syntactic analysis (pages 235–250)

      Alex de Carvalho, Isabelle Dautriche and Anne Christophe

      Article first published online: 14 APR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12300

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      In two experiments we investigated whether young children are able to use the position of a word within the prosodic structure to compute its syntactic category (noun vs. verb). Pairs of noun/verb homophones in French were used to create locally ambiguous sentences (e.g. [la petite ferme] [est jolie] the small farm is nice vs. [la petite] [ferme la fenêtre] the little girl closes the window where brackets indicate phonological phrase boundaries). Crucially, all words following the homophone were masked, such that prosodic cues were the only disambiguating information. Children successfully exploited prosody to assign the appropriate syntactic category to the target word in both an oral completion task (4.5-year-olds, Experiment 1) and in a preferential looking paradigm with an eye-tracker (3.5- and 4.5-year-olds, Experiment 2). Altogether, results show that upon hearing the first words of a sentence, even 3-year olds exploit prosody online to constrain their syntactic analysis.

    6. A mathematical model of the evolution of individual differences in developmental plasticity arising through parental bet-hedging (pages 251–274)

      Willem E. Frankenhuis, Karthik Panchanathan and Jay Belsky

      Article first published online: 24 MAY 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12309

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      We formalize Jay Belsky's bet-hedging hypothesis of differential plasticity. Results support the hypothesis' logical coherence, but only under restrictive conditions. Our model suggests novel avenues for empirically testing the bet-hedging hypothesis.

    7. Young children with a positive reputation to maintain are less likely to cheat (pages 275–283)

      Genyue Fu, Gail D. Heyman, Miao Qian, Tengfei Guo and Kang Lee

      Article first published online: 14 APR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12304

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Five-year-olds were less likely to cheat in a guessing game in the experimental conditions where they were informed of their existing good reputation than in the control condition. The findings suggest that by age 5, children are motivated to avoid behaviors that could put their positive reputations at risk.

    8. The over-pruning hypothesis of autism (pages 284–305)

      Michael S.C. Thomas, Rachael Davis, Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Victoria C.P. Knowland and Tony Charman

      Article first published online: 6 APR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12303

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      This articles proposes a new hypothesis of the cause of autism, based on a neurocomputational model. The over-pruning hypothesis proposes that ASD results from over-pruning of brain connectivity early in development, particularly impacting long-range connections. The hypothesis generates a number of novel hypotheses that can be tested against new data emerging from studies of infants at risk of developing ASD. It proposes that a single underlying pathological mechanism interacts with population-wide variation in neurocomputational parameters to produce different trajectories of ASD including early onset, late onset, and regression.

    9. Animal, but not human, faces engage the distributed face network in adolescents with autism (pages 306–317)

      Elisabeth M. Whyte, Marlene Behrmann, Nancy J. Minshew, Natalie V. Garcia and K. Suzanne Scherf

      Article first published online: 14 APR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12305

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      High functioning adolescents (HFA) with autism and age-matched typically developing (TD) adolescents completed MRI scans as they observed human and animal faces. Compared to TD adolescents, HFA adolescents exhibited hypo-activation in the face-processing system only to human, but not animal, faces. This atypical neural response to human faces in autism may stem from abnormalities in the ability to represent the reward value of social (i.e. conspecific) stimuli.

    10. When infants talk, infants listen: pre-babbling infants prefer listening to speech with infant vocal properties (pages 318–328)

      Matthew Masapollo, Linda Polka and Lucie Ménard

      Article first published online: 5 MAR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12298

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      This is the first study to show that infants prefer listening to infant speech sounds over adult speech sounds. We indexed listening preferences in pre-babbling infants by measuring by how long they fixated on a static visual pattern presented in tandem with either an infant vowel sound or an adult vowel sound, as shown in this figure. Probing further we found that infants prefer both the voice pitch (f0) and the formant structure of infant speech sounds. This perceptual bias favoring infant vocal properties may help to illuminate important aspects of infant speech and language development. There has been a great deal of research focused on how infants perceive speech produced by adults, but if we want to understand how infants learn to monitor and perceive the speech they themselves produce, we need to study how they perceive infant speech signals, too.

    11. Spontaneous non-verbal counting in toddlers (pages 329–337)

      Francesco Sella, Ilaria Berteletti, Daniela Lucangeli and Marco Zorzi

      Article first published online: 5 MAR 2015 | DOI: 10.1111/desc.12299

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Two-and-a-half-year-olds watched the experimenter performing one-by-one insertion of ‘food tokens’ into an opaque animal puppet and then were asked to imitate the puppet-feeding behavior. Chidlren who focused on numerosity (Focusers) displayed a response distributions centered on the target numerosities and showed the classic variability signature that is attributed to the Approximate Number System. This shows that pre-counting children are capable of sequentially updating the numerosity of non-visible sets through additive operations and hold it in memory for reproducing the observed behavior.