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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Dorothy Cowie

Cowie, D., Sterling, S. & Bremner, A.J. (2016). The development of multisensory body representation and awareness continues to ten years of age: evidence from the rubber hand illusion. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 142: 230-238.

Author(s) from Durham


Recent research using the “rubber hand illusion” shows that the multisensory processes underlying body representations are markedly different in children of 4 to 9 years and adults. In representing the position of their own hand in external space, children of this age rely more on the sight of the hand, and less on its proprioceptively felt position, than adults do. The current study investigated when during later childhood the balance between visual and proprioceptive inputs reaches an adult-like weighting. After inducing the rubber hand illusion in 10- to 13-year-olds, we asked participants to point, with eyes closed, to the perceived position of their hand. We found that pointing responses reached adult levels at 10 to 11 years, showing that at this age children perceive hand location using an adult-like balance of sensory cues. We conclude that the multisensory foundations of the bodily self undergo a protracted period of development through early and mid-childhood, reaching an adult state by 10 to 11 years.

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