Identifying peripersonal space boundaries in newborns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Padova
  • Paediatric Unit, Hospital of Monfalcone, Monfalcone, GO, Italy

Abstract

Peripersonal space immediately surrounds the body and can be represented in the brain as a multisensory and sensorimotor interface mediating physical and social interactions between body and environment. Very little consideration has been given to the ontogeny of peripersonal spatial representations in early postnatal life, despite the crucial roles of peripersonal space and its adaptive relevance as the space where infants’ earliest interactions take place. Here, we investigated whether peripersonal space could be considered a delimited portion of space with defined boundaries soon after birth. Our findings showed for the first time that newborns’ saccadic reaction times to a tactile stimulus simultaneous to sounds with different intensities changed based on the sound intensity. In particular, they were significantly faster when the sound was lounder than a critical intensity, in a pattern that closely resembled that showed by adults. Therefore, provided that sound intensity on its own can cue newborns’ sound distance perception, we speculate that this critical distance could be considered the boundary of newborns’ rudimentary peripersonal space. Altogether, our findings suggest that soon after birth peripersonal space may be already considered as a bounded portion of space, perhaps instrumental to drive newborns’ attention towards events and people within it.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number9370
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas