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ERIC Number: EJ1010870
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-May
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 34
ISSN: ISSN-1363-755X
The Cradle of Causal Reasoning: Newborns' Preference for Physical Causality
Mascalzoni, Elena; Regolin, Lucia; Vallortigara, Giorgio; Simion, Francesca
Developmental Science, v16 n3 p327-335 May 2013
Perception of mechanical (i.e. physical) causality, in terms of a cause-effect relationship between two motion events, appears to be a powerful mechanism in our daily experience. In spite of a growing interest in the earliest causal representations, the role of experience in the origin of this sensitivity is still a matter of dispute. Here, we asked the question about the innate origin of causal perception, never tested before at birth. Three experiments were carried out to investigate sensitivity at birth to some visual spatiotemporal cues present in a launching event. Newborn babies, only a few hours old, showed that they significantly preferred a physical causality event (i.e. Michotte's Launching effect) when matched to a delay event (i.e. a delayed launching; Experiment 1) or to a non-causal event completely identical to the causal one except for the order of the displacements of the two objects involved which was swapped temporally (Experiment 3). This preference for the launching event, moreover, also depended on the continuity of the trajectory between the objects involved in the event (Experiment 2). These results support the hypothesis that the human system possesses an early available, possibly innate basic mechanism to compute causality, such a mechanism being sensitive to the additive effect of certain well-defined spatiotemporal cues present in the causal event independently of any prior visual experience. (Contains 5 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Italy