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Child Development Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 465458, 5 pages
Research Article

Observed Human Actions, and Not Mechanical Actions, Induce Searching Errors in Infants

1Department of School Education, Joetsu University of Education, Joetsu 943-8512, Japan
2Japan Science and Technology Agency, Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology, Tokyo 102-0076, Japan
3Department of General Systems Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan
4Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
5The Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

Received 18 April 2012; Revised 12 May 2012; Accepted 18 May 2012

Academic Editor: Masha Gartstein

Copyright © 2012 Yusuke Moriguchi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Recent neurophysiological studies have shown that several human brain regions involved in executing actions are activated by merely observing such actions via a human, and not by a mechanical hand. At a behavioral level, observing a human’s movements, but not those of a robot, significantly interferes with ongoing executed movements. However, it is unclear whether the biological tuning in the observation/execution matching system are functional during infancy. The present study examines whether a human’s actions, and not a mechanical action, influence infants’ execution of the same actions due to the observation/execution matching system. Twelve-month-old infants were given a searching task. In the tasks, infants observed an object hidden at location A, after which either a human hand (human condition) or a mechanical one (mechanical condition) searched the object correctly. Next, the object was hidden at location B and infants were allowed to search the object. We examined whether infants searched the object at location B correctly. The results revealed that infants in the human condition were more likely to search location A than those in the mechanical condition. Moreover, the results suggested that infants’ searching behaviors were affected by their observations of the same actions by a human, but not a mechanical hand. Thus, it may be concluded that the observation/execution matching system may be biologically tuned during infancy.