Canonical Body Knowledge, Perceptuo-motor Coordination, And Tactile Localization
Knowledge about how body parts are configured is crucial in determining appropriate strategies for achieving desired goals. Prior work suggests that this knowledge is evident in later infancy (Brownell et al., 2010; Slaughter et al., 2004), however, the methods used to assess canonical body knowledge arguably require a conceptual form of knowledge. In contrast, we propose that a functional knowledge about the configuration of the body can be detected in younger infants. We used a tactile localization procedure in which the child's task was to retrieve a target that emitted proprioceptive information via a slight vibration. Children aged 7 - 22 months received targets placed on various locations on the head and body one at a time. The results suggest that even the youngest children in the current study were able to map their actions to get to target locations. Notably, this was also the case for locations that require a form of canonical body knowledge to reach successfully. When the area could be reached with either the ipsilateral or the contralateral hand (i.e., head locations), there was a tendency for ipsilateral hand use, though contralateral hand use increased with increasing age. Visual-proprioception integration (i.e., both seeing and feeling the target on the body) did facilitate manual target localization, however, visual localization became less important for successful manual localization as age increased. In sum, the current study demonstrates the perceptuo-motor competencies that manifest prior to children's ability to succeed on mirror recognition and discrimination tasks.