Infants’ cortical processing of biological motion configuration

Infants’ cortical processing of biological motion configuration – A fNIRS study.

Biological motion perception is a key component of action perception contributing to social cognition in crucial ways. Contemporary neuroimaging studies show that biological motion is processed differently in the human brain from other types of motion. In particular, the right posterior Superior Temporal Sulcus (rpSTS), an area known for its central role in social perception, has been consistently associated with the perception of biological motion in the mature brain. By contrast, most findings investigating the development of biological motion perception in infancy come from behavioral studies, and far less is known regarding the right STS’ role in processing biological motion. The current study used fNIRS to measure brain activation to biological motion in the rSTS region of 7-8-month-old infants. Infants were presented with two conditions: an approaching coherent motion of a person walking (coherent point-light-walker, PLW); and a spatially scrambled version of this display, where the global configuration of a person walking was disrupted (scrambled PLW). We found a functional activation, i.e., a significant increase in HbO2 concentration in relation to baseline, in the right middle-posterior temporal cortex only when infants viewed the coherent point-light-walker. This activation statistically differed from the scrambled point-light-walker, and no significant activations were found for viewing the scrambled motion. Our study adds evidence pointing to rSTS’ sensitivity to the global human configuration in biological motion processing during infancy. The rSTS seems thus to become functionally specialized in biological motion configuration as early as at 7-8 months of age.

PMID: 32417706 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Infant Behav Dev. 2020 May 14;60:101450

Authors: Lisboa IC, Queirós S, Miguel H, Sampaio A, Santos JA, Pereira AF





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