MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Andrew N. Meltzoff Ph.D.
Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair
Co-Director, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS)
Professor of Psychology
Elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
University of Washington, Box 357920
Seattle, WA 98195
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: We are applying safe, noninvasive neuroscience techniques to examine the development of young children. We are especially interested in social-emotional learning and cognitive development. The way the body is represented in the brain is well-studied topic in cognitive neuroscience using adults, for example, the classical studies by W. Penfield on the ‘sensorimotor homunculus’ in the adult brain. The development of neural body map in human infants is, however, deeply understudied.
We think that the way the body is represented in the brain will provide important information about infant learning prior to language. For example, one of the chief avenues of learning in human infants is through observation and imitation. Infants watch what adults do and imitate those behaviors, rapidly learning about people, things, and causal relations. The mechanisms of imitation themselves are interesting. In order to imitate, infants need to know what part of their body to move and how to move it. We wanted to explore the representations of the human body in the infant brain prior to language. Continue reading