Funded Grants

Origins of body knowledge

What does it mean to know one’s body? In this project, we seek to initiate a new line of study on the emergence of body knowledge and the self by investigating the everyday experience that infants generate about their bodies through self-touch. Our overall goal is to investigate the "how" of body knowledge acquisition. To do so, we investigate the hypothesis that through the mechanism of self-touch, infants "educate" themselves about the layout of their bodies. We undertake studies of infants in their homes, where we can observe how infants, in the course of their daily activities and over developmental time, engage in self-touch. With this information, we then examine how patterns of self-touch establish an integrated reaching map of the body, enabling young children to localize and reach to targets on the body, regardless of the position of the body target or that of the reaching hand. More broadly, with this approach, we hope to motivate a new wave of research on body knowledge that is situated in the everyday lives of children.