Informations and abstract
Keywords: newborns, hand movements, mirror system, visuo-motor representations, biomechanical properties of motion
Human adults possess neurophysiological mechanisms which allow to integrate action perception and execution within the observer's own motor representation. The aim of this study is to examine whether these mechanisms are already present at birth. Using a preferential looking paradigm, Experiment 1 investigated whether newborns are able to discriminate between an observed plausible hand movement, which is already part of their motor repertoire - i.e., possible hand movement, and a similar movement which violates the constraints of human anatomy - i.e., impossible hand movement. Newborns showed a visual preference for the impossible hand movement. Experiment 2 demonstrated that static images did not allow differentiating between possible and impossible hand postures. Overall, evidence suggests that a mechanism linking motor representations of movements which are part of the newborn's motor repertoire and their visual representations is already present at birth.