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Developmental changes in the discrimination of dynamic human actions in infancy


Jeff Loucks, Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Box 351525, Seattle, WA, 98195-1525, USA; e-mail:


Recent evidence suggests that adults selectively attend to features of action, such as how a hand contacts an object, and less to configural properties of action, such as spatial trajectory, when observing human actions. The current research investigated whether this bias develops in infancy. We utilized a habituation paradigm to assess 4-month-old and 10-month-old infants’ discrimination of action based on featural, configural, and temporal sources of action information. Younger infants were able to discriminate changes to all three sources of information, but older infants were only able to reliably discriminate changes to featural information. These results highlight a previously unknown aspect of early action processing, and suggest that action perception may undergo a developmental process akin to perceptual narrowing.