Dr. Rebecca Brand
Department of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Project Title: The role of self-produced locomotion experience on infants’ understanding of agency
Interpreting others’ actions in terms of underlying psychological causes is a foundational skill for social, emotional, and linguistic development. Infants appear to have impressive skills at interpreting agents, apparently supported by both innate skills and their own experiences. There is promising evidence that the onset of locomotion (typically crawling) may facilitate this understanding; however, existing evidence is merely correlational. This project will be the first to test this idea experimentally, by providing non-crawling infants locomotor experience using an infant-controlled robotic platform. The “Baby Kart” is a slow-moving wheeled device operated by infants’ own head turns and arm waves. The proposed studies are exciting for their use of this novel robotic design, and would set the stage for investigating other important developments in both typically-developing children and those experiencing delays.