You'll never crawl alone: Neurophysiological evidence for experience-dependent motor resonance in infancy

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Abstract

Lately, neuroscience is showing a great interest in examining the functional and neural mechanisms which support action observation and understanding. Recent studies have suggested that our motor skills crucially affect the way in which we perceive the actions generated by others, by showing stronger motor resonance for observation of actions that are established in one's motor repertoire. In the present study we extend previous findings that were based on expert motor skills in adults to the natural development of actions in infants. To investigate the effect of natural motor experience on motor resonance during action observation, 14- to 16-month-old infants' EEG was recorded during observation of action videos. Stronger mu- and beta-desynchronizations were found for observation of crawling compared to walking videos and the size of the effect was strongly related to the infant's own crawling experience. This suggests that already early in life one's own action experience is closely related to how actions of others are perceived.

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