Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 234, Issue 9, pp 2465–2478 | Cite as

Action perception in infancy: the plasticity of 7-month-olds’ attention to grasping actions

  • Moritz M. Daum
  • Caroline Wronski
  • Annekatrin Harms
  • Gustaf Gredebäck
Research Article


The present study investigates the plasticity of 7-month-old infants’ orienting of attention during their perception of grasping actions. Previous research has shown that when infants observe a grasping hand, they shift their attention in line with the grasping direction, which is indicated by a reliable priming effect in this direction. The mechanisms behind this priming effect are largely unknown, and it is unclear how malleable this priming effect is with respect to a brief exposure to novel action-target contingencies. In a spatial-cueing paradigm, we presented a series of training trials prior to a series of test trials. These training sequences significantly modulated infants’ attention. This suggests that action perception, when assessed through shifts of attention, is not solely based on the infants’ grasping experience but quickly adapts to context-specific observed regularities.


Eye tracking Attention Violation of expectation Learning Action priming 



We wish to thank Caterina Böttcher and Kerstin Träger for the acquisition of the participants. We owe special thanks to the infants and parents who participated in this study. This research was supported by ERC Starting Grant 312292 and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (2012-0120) awarded to Gustaf Gredebäck.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moritz M. Daum
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caroline Wronski
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Annekatrin Harms
    • 2
  • Gustaf Gredebäck
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.University of Applied SciencesPotsdamGermany

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