27 research outputs found

    Lifelong learning of cognitive styles for physical problem-solving: The effect of embodied experience

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    ‘Embodied cognition’ suggests that our bodily experiences broadly shape our cognitive capabilities. We study how embodied experience affects the abstract physical problem-solving styles people use in a virtual task where embodiment does not affect action capabilities. We compare how groups with different embodied experience – 25 children and 35 adults with congenital limb differences versus 45 children and 40 adults born with two hands – perform this task, and find that while there is no difference in overall competence, the groups use different cognitive styles to find solutions. People born with limb differences think more before acting but take fewer attempts to reach solutions. Conversely, development affects the particular actions children use, as well as their persistence with their current strategy. Our findings suggest that while development alters action choices and persistence, differences in embodied experience drive changes in the acquisition of cognitive styles for balancing acting with thinking

    Alice in Wonderland: The effects of body size and movement on children’s size perception and body representation in virtual reality

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    Previous work shows that in adults, illusory embodiment of a virtual avatar can be induced using congruent visuomotor cues. Furthermore, embodying different-sized avatars influences adults’ perception of their environment’s size. This study (N = 92) investigated whether children are also susceptible to such embodiment and size illusions. Adults and 5-year-old children viewed a first-person perspective of different-sized avatars moving either congruently or incongruently with their own body. Participants rated their feelings of embodiment over the avatar and also estimated the sizes of their body and objects in the environment. Unlike adults, children embodied the avatar regardless of visuomotor congruency. Both adults and children freely embodied different-sized avatars, and this affected their size perception in the surrounding virtual environment; they felt that objects were larger in a small body and vice versa in a large body. In addition, children felt that their body had grown in the large body condition. These findings have important implications for both our theoretical understanding of own-body representation, and our knowledge of perception in virtual environments

    The role of hand size in body representation: a developmental investigation

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    Knowledge of one’s own body size is a crucial facet of body representation, both for acting on the environment and perhaps also for constraining body ownership. However, representations of body size may be somewhat plastic, particularly to allow for physical growth in childhood. Here we report a developmental investigation into the role of hand size in body representation (the sense of body ownership, perception of hand position, and perception of own-hand size). Using the rubber hand illusion paradigm, this study used different fake hand sizes (60%, 80%, 100%, 120% or 140% of typical size) in three age groups (6- to 7-year-olds, 12- to 13-year-olds, and adults; N = 229). We found no evidence that hand size constrains ownership or position: participants embodied hands which were both larger and smaller than their own, and indeed judged their own hands to have changed size following the illusion. Children and adolescents embodied the fake hands more than adults, with a greater tendency to feel their own hand had changed size. Adolescents were particularly sensitive to multisensory information. In sum, we found substantial plasticity in the representation of own-body size, with partial support for the hypothesis that children have looser representations than adults

    Meta-strategy learning in physical problem-solving: the effect of embodied experience

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    `Embodied cognition' suggests that our motor experiences shape our cognitive and perceptual capabilities broadly, but often considers tasks that directly relate to or manipulate the body. Here we study how a history of natural embodied experience affects abstract physical problem-solving in a virtual, disembodied physical reasoning task. We compare how groups with different embodied experience -- congenitally limb-different versus two-handed children and adults -- perform on this task, and find that while there is no difference in overall performance, limb-different participants solved problems using fewer actions, and spent a longer time thinking before acting. This suggests that differences in embodied experience drive the acquisition of different meta-strategies for balancing acting with thinking, even on tasks that are designed to equalize differences in embodiment

    Three principles for the progress of immersive technologies in healthcare training and education

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    My virtual self: the role of movement in children's sense of embodiment

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    There are vast potential applications for children's entertainment and education with modern virtual reality (VR) experiences, yet we know very little about how the movement or form of such a virtual body can influence children's feelings of control (agency) or the sensation that they own the virtual body (ownership). In two experiments, we gave a total of 197 children aged 4-14 years a virtual hand which moved synchronously or asynchronously with their own movements and had them interact with a VR environment. We found that movement synchrony influenced feelings of control and ownership at all ages. In Experiment 1 only, participants additionally felt haptic feedback either congruently, delayed or not at all this did not influence feelings of control or ownership. In Experiment 2 only, participants used either a virtual hand or non-human virtual block. Participants embodied both forms to some degree, provided visuomotor signals were synchronous (as indicated by ownership, agency, and location ratings). Yet, only the hand in the synchronous movement condition was described as feeling like part of the body, rather than like a tool (e.g., a mouse or controller). Collectively, these findings highlight the overall dominance of visuomotor synchrony for children's own-body representation; that children can embody non-human forms to some degree; and that embodiment is also somewhat constrained by prior expectations of body form

    My body until proven otherwise: Exploring the time course of the full body illusion

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    Evidence from the Full Body Illusion (FBI) has shown that adults can embody full bodies which are not their own when they move synchronously with their own body or are viewed from a first-person perspective. However, there is currently no consensus regarding the time course of the illusion. Here, for the first time, we examined the effect of visuomotor synchrony (synchronous/asynchronous/no movement) on the FBI over time. Surprisingly, we found evidence of embodiment over a virtual body after five seconds in all conditions. Embodiment decreased with increased exposure to asynchronous movement, but remained high in synchronous and no movement conditions. We suggest that embodiment of a body seen from a first-person perspective is felt by default, and that embodiment can then be lost in the face of contradictory cues. These results have significant implications for our understanding of how multisensory cues contribute to embodiment

    Mind your step: learning to walk in complex environments

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    In everyday contexts, children must respond to both self-related constraints (their own skills and abilities) and environmental constraints (external obstacles and goals). How do young children simultaneously accommodate these to support skilled and flexible behaviour? We used walking in a complex environment as a testbed for two hypotheses. Hypothesis 1: children will accommodate the self-related constraint of high foot placement variability via dynamic scaling. Hypothesis 2: children will plan ahead, even in complex environments. In our task, 3- to 5-year-olds and adults walked over obstacle sequences of varying complexity. We measured foot placement around the first obstacle in the sequence. Hypothesis 1 was partially supported. In simple, single obstacle environments, children engaged in dynamic scaling like adults. Those with more variable foot placement left greater margins of error between the feet and the obstacle. However, in complex, multiple obstacle settings, children employed large, un-tailored margins of error. This parallels other multisensory tasks in which children do not rely on the relative variability of sensory inputs. Hypothesis 2 was supported. Like adults, children planned ahead for environmental constraints. Children adjusted foot placement around the first obstacle depending on the upcoming obstacle sequence. In doing so, they demonstrate surprisingly sophisticated planning. We, therefore, show that in the motor domain, even very young children simultaneously control both self-related and environmental constraints. This allows flexible, safe and efficient behaviour

    The Developing Bodily Self : How Posture Constrains Body Representation in Childhood

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    Adults’ body representation is constrained by multisensory information and knowledge of the body such as its possible postures. This study (N  = 180) tested for similar constraints in children. Using the rubber hand illusion with adults and 6‐ to 7‐year olds, we measured proprioceptive drift (an index of hand localization) and ratings of felt hand ownership. The fake hand was either congruent or incongruent with the participant’s own. Across ages, congruency of posture and visual–tactile congruency yielded greater drift toward the fake hand. Ownership ratings were higher with congruent visual–tactile information, but unaffected by posture. Posture constrains body representation similarly in children and adults, suggesting that children have sensitive, robust mechanisms for maintaining a sense of bodily self
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