Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Newborn humans: predisposition for biological motion

This work demonstrates that when we are born, we have an innate bias towards attending to motions characteristic of other living things. Newborn chickens do this also. The abstract, a figure, and a video from Simion et al. :

An inborn predisposition to attend to biological motion has long been theorized, but had so far been demonstrated only in one animal species (the domestic chicken). In particular, no preference for biological motion was reported for human infants of less than 3 months of age. We tested 2-day-old babies' discrimination after familiarization and their spontaneous preferences for biological vs. nonbiological point-light animations. Newborns were shown to be able to discriminate between two different patterns of motion (Exp. 1) and, when first exposed to them, selectively preferred to look at the biological motion display (Exp. 2). This preference was also orientation-dependent: newborns looked longer at upright displays than upside-down displays (Exp. 3). These data support the hypothesis that detection of biological motion is an intrinsic capacity of the visual system, which is presumably part of an evolutionarily ancient and nonspecies-specific system predisposing animals to preferentially attend to other animals.

Figure: Three sample frames taken from the animation sequences used in the study: the biological motion stimulus (i.e., the walking hen) (Top), the nonbiological motion stimulus (random motion) (Middle), and the inverted biological motion display (upside-down walking hen) (Bottom). Squares indicate the point-lights.

1 comment:

gregory said...

you know of course yogis will say there is no free will, everything is predetermined. one cannot even control which thoughts come into one's mind, they come from the Self. (i know this word is not understood in the west)

i first looked at the "intention prior to perception" research as incredibly interesting, implying something prior to the senses. well, enough, but there is something prior to intention as well.

if impulses are coming from consciousness, or just a generally more subtle realm of being, then of course both "intention" and "perception" aspects of mind will fire... the difference between the two is actually minor, both are reactions to something else, and the connection between them is not important.

it is not that mirror neurons exist, they are sort of a concept to describe something observable, within the framework of the known, but the discovery actually blocks research into more fundamental causes (ok, maybe it is a step on the way)

it is really time for scientists to start meditating

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