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The neural correlates of infant and adult goal prediction : evidence for semantic processing systems.

Reid, V.M. and Hoehl, S. and Grigutsch, M. and Groendahl, A. and Parise, E. and Striano, T. (2009) 'The neural correlates of infant and adult goal prediction : evidence for semantic processing systems.', Developmental psychology., 45 (3). pp. 620-629.


The adult N400 has been related to the semantic processing of language and action. Little is known on the development of this system. The sequential nature of action ensures that an individual can anticipate the conclusion of an observed action via the use of semantic rules. We developed an Event-related potential paradigm where infants and adults observed simple sequences of actions. In one condition the conclusion of the sequence was anticipated whereas in the other condition the conclusion was not anticipated. Adults and infants at 9 and 7 months were assessed via the same neural mechanisms – the N400 component of the event-related potential and analysis of the theta frequency. Results indicated that adults and infants at 9 months produced N400-like responses when anticipating the conclusion of actions. The infants at 7 months displayed no N400 component. Analysis of the theta frequency provided support for the relation between the N400 and semantic processing. This study suggests that infants at 9 months anticipate goals and use similar cognitive mechanisms to adults in this task. In addition, this result suggests that components of language processing may derive from action understanding in early development.

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Record Created:26 Sep 2012 11:05
Last Modified:26 Sep 2012 11:19

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