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Infants’ understanding and production of goal-directed actions in the context of social and object-related interactions

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Since the discovery of mirror neurons and distinct ventral and dorsal pathways in the brain, the study of human infant goal-directed actions and object manipulation has burgeoned into new and exciting research directions. Some infant studies have begun emphasizing the social context of action, to understand ...

Since the discovery of mirror neurons and distinct ventral and dorsal pathways in the brain, the study of human infant goal-directed actions and object manipulation has burgeoned into new and exciting research directions. Some infant studies have begun emphasizing the social context of action, to understand what infants can infer when looking at others performing goal-directed actions or manipulating objects. Others have begun addressing how even simply looking at objects in the immediate environment influences the way infants direct their attention and their own actions on objects. Researchers have asked how and when the ventral and dorsal pathways develop in infancy, and whether their respective rate of development leads to dissociations between object recognition and object-directed action in development. And others have begun investigating what aspects of goal-directed actions and object manipulation infants imitate when such actions are being modeled by a social partner; for example, if infants imitate the action pattern itself, its function, or its outcome. These new lines of investigation have benefited from the use of a broad range of new investigative techniques. Eye-tracking, brains imaging techniques, modeling, and other new methodologies have been used to understand how infants look, process, and use information to act themselves on objects and/or the social world, and to infer, predict, and recognize goal-directed actions outcomes from their environment. This Frontiers in Psychology research topic aims to bring together research from both the Movement Science and Developmental Psychology that have begun investigating these questions in complementary ways. We welcome empirical reports, literature reviews, and hypothesis and theory papers that tap into any of those exciting developmental questions about how infants perceive, understand, and perform goal-directed actions broadly defined. Papers can stress the neural, motor, cognitive, perceptual aspects of infants’ behavior, or any combination of those dimensions as related to the development of early cognitive understanding and production of goal-directed actions.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be in line with the scope of the specialty and field to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Manuscripts discovered during any stage of peer review to be outside of the scope may be transferred to a suitable section or field, or withdrawn from review.

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