Neural correlates of action perception at the onset of functional grasping

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Event-related potentials were recorded while infants observe congruent or incongruent grasping actions at the age when organized grasping first emerges (4–6 months of age). We demonstrate that the event-related potential component P400 encodes the congruency of power grasps at the age of 6 months (Experiment 1) and in 5-month-old infants that have developed the ability to use power grasps (Experiment 2). This effect does not extend to precision grasps, which infants cannot perform (Experiment 3). Our findings suggest that infants’ encoding of the relationship between an object and a grasping hand (the action–perception link) is highly specialized to actions and manual configurations of actions that infants are able to perform.

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