Using an animal model to explore the prenatal origins of social development
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Prenatal experience is both a formative and regulatory force in the process of development. As a result, birth is not an adequate starting point for explanations of behavioral development. However, little is currently known regarding the role of prenatal experience in the emergence and development of neonatal social orienting, social motivation, or social learning. Our lack of knowledge in this area is due in part to the very restricted experimental manipulations possible with human fetuses. A comparative approach utilizing animal models provides an essential step in addressing this gap in our knowledge of the development of social responsiveness and providing testable predictions for studies with human fetuses and infants. In this chapter we review animal-based research exploring how aspects of prenatal experience can facilitate the development of postnatal social motivation, social recognition, and social learning. We conclude that infant social responsiveness has its roots in prenatal development and that intersensory redundancy present in the prenatal environment promotes the salience of social stimuli during early postnatal development.
Lickliter, Robert and Bahrick, Lorraine E., "Using an animal model to explore the prenatal origins of social development" (2016). Department of Psychology. 100.