Crossmodal interactions in the human newborn

Arlette Streri

in Multisensory Development

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199586059
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741470 | DOI:
Crossmodal interactions in the human newborn

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Newborns are largely naïve when they enter the world. How can they make sense of the wealth of stable or moving objects, events, and people that they encounter through audition, vision, touch and olfaction? This chapter focuses on the various perceptual mechanisms and crossmodal interactions that exist in newborns. Some crossmodal interactions, such as chemosensory interactions, stem from the prenatal life of the newborn; while others, such as auditory-visual and tactile-visual interactions, only emerge at birth. These interactions present different complexities and levels of processing. Crossmodal interactions observed in human newborns involving the chemical senses, audition, and vision are discussed first. Then, the relations between the visual and the tactile modalities in newborns are examined in detail. These relations shed light on an old philosophical question: Molyneux’s famous question (July, 7, 1688) and the origin of crossmodal identity.

Keywords: newborns; crossmodal perception; crossmodal transfer; vision; touch; Molyneux’s question; multisensory development

Chapter.  14298 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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