Unlike many other living organisms, humans have the unique ability of self identity. We have a sense of our body. Actually to call it ‘a sense’ would be incorrect. Multiple senses—namely vision, touch, and body orientation—come together for us to perceive our body. These multiple senses are well-developed and well-orchestrated in adults. A study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that the sense of bodily ‘self’ in children may differ from that of adults.
Lead researcher and psychological scientist Dorothy Cowie of Goldsmiths, University of London along with her colleagues, believes that there might be age differences in how these processes work in conjunction. To test this hypothesis, they relied on a well-known sensory illusion called the ‘rubber-hand illusion.’ Check out the video to understand how the illusion works.
width=”625px” This is representative video that explains what the rubber-hand illusion is
The video experiment ends with a hammer though Dorothy and colleagues did not employ such a drastic end. Her team tested children of three different age groups [4-5; 6-7; and 8-9 years old], as well as adult participants. After the stroking, the participants were asked to close their eyes and point their right index finger under the table directly underneath the left index finger of their actual hand.
The points that the children marked were closer to the fake hand and farther away from their own hand. Interestingly, children of all ages responded more strongly to the illusion than the adults did.
This indicates that among children the sense of body orientation may not have developed and hence they rely heavily on touch to arrive at their sense of bodily self. With their tactile sense being hijacked through the illusion, they went off the mark quite easily. Adults have a developed sense of body that does not depend so much a single source. Hence their marks were closer to the real hand.
The research suggests that there are two distinct processes that work together to make sense of the body and these processes develop according to different timetables —touch-driven sense develops early in childhood, while vision-driven sense develops later.
Source: Association for Psychological Science
Read the full story at the APS website.