A groundbreaking new study by neuroscientists and developmental psychologists at the University of Chicago has identified a direct link between neural responses from the motor system and overt social behavior in infants.
The April 2016 study, “Motor System Activation Predicts Goal Imitation in 7-Month-Old Infants,” was published today in the journal Psychological Science. The goal of this study was to identify how young infants’ brains process other people’s actions in a social context.
During the experiment, 7-month-old infants were tested and observed while wearing an electroencephalography (EEG) cap to measure brain activity, while an actor reached for one of two toys. Immediately after observing the actor reaching for a toy, the baby was allowed to select one of either toys. The researchers repeated this procedure 12 times.