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    Belief-based action prediction in preverbal infants

    Southgate, Victoria and Vernetti, Angelina (2014) Belief-based action prediction in preverbal infants. Cognition 130 (1), pp. 1-10. ISSN 0010-0277.

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    Abstract

    Successful mindreading entails both the ability to think about what others know or believe, and to use this knowledge to generate predictions about how mental states will influence behavior. While previous studies have demonstrated that young infants are sensitive to others’ mental states, there continues to be much debate concerning how to characterize early theory of mind abilities. In the current study, we asked whether 6-month-old infants appreciate the causal role that beliefs play in action. Specifically, we tested whether infants generate action predictions that are appropriate given an agent’s current belief. We exploited a novel, neural indication of action prediction: motor cortex activation as measured by sensorimotor alpha suppression, to ask whether infants would generate differential predictions depending on an agent’s belief. After first verifying our paradigm and measure with a group of adult participants, we found that when an agent had a false belief that a ball was in the box, motor activity indicated that infants predicted she would reach for the box, but when the agent had a false belief that a ball was not in the box, infants did not predict that she would act. In both cases, infants based their predictions on what the agent, rather than the infant, believed to be the case, suggesting that by 6 months of age, infants can exploit their sensitivity to other minds for action prediction.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Infants, Theory of mind, False belief, EEG, Sensorimotor alpha suppression
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centre: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2013 10:14
    Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 11:58
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/8483

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