Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Ramesh Bhatt

Abstract

Holistic image processing is tied to expertise and is characteristic of face and body processing by adults. Infants process faces holistically, but it is unknown whether infants process body information holistically. In the present study, we examined whether infants discriminate changes in body posture holistically. Body posture is an important nonverbal cue that signals emotion, intention, and goals of others even from a distance. In the current study, infants were tested for discrimination between body postures that differ in limb orientations in three conditions: in the context of the whole body, with just the limbs that change orientation, or with the limbs in the context of scrambled body parts. Nine-month olds discriminated between whole body postures, but failed in the isolated parts and scrambled body conditions, indicating that they use holistic processes to discriminate body information. In contrast, 3.5-month olds failed to discriminate between whole body postures, therefore no conclusion can be drawn about their ability to process bodies holistically. These results indicate that infants process body information holistically during the first year of life, but there are developmental changes in the processing of body information from 3.5 to 9 months of age.

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