Body Awareness Develops Throughout Childhood
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The Journal of Experimental Child Psychology published research on the development of multisensory body representation and awareness in older children (10-13 years old) using the “the rubber hand illusion”. Previous research indicated that younger children (ages 4-9 years old) represent the position of their own hand in external space by relying more on looking at the hand, and less on proprioceptive input when compared to adults. The current study used the rubber hand illusion to determine if 10-13 year olds balance visual and proprioceptive inputs at an adult maturity level. Following the illusion, the participants had to point, with eyes closed, to the perceived position of their hand.
The results indicated the following:
1. pointing responses reached adult levels at 10 to 11 years indicating that at this age children perceive hand location using an adult-like balance of sensory cues.
The researchers concluded that the multisensory foundations of the bodily self develop throughout early and mid-childhood, reaching an adult state by 10 to 11 years.
Reference: Cowie, D et al. The development of multisensory body representation and awareness continues to 10 years of age: Evidence from the rubber hand illusion. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Volume 142, February 2016, Pages 230–238.