To have and to hold: embodied ownership is established in early childhood.

Ada Kritikos, Samuel Sparks, Jessica Lister, Katherine Sofronoff, Andrew Bayliss, Virginia Slaughter

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We investigated whether embodied ownership is evident in early childhood. To do so, we gifted a drinking bottle to children (aged 24–48 months) to use for 2 weeks. They returned to perform reach–grasp–lift–replace actions with their own or the experimenter’s bottle while we recorded their movements using motion capture. There were differences in motor interactions with self- vs experimenter-owned bottles, such that children positioned self-owned bottles significantly closer to themselves compared with the experimenter’s bottle. Age did not modulate the positioning of the self-owned bottle relative to the experimenter-owned bottle. In contrast, the pattern was not evident in children who selected one of the two bottles to keep only after the task was completed, and thus did not ‘own’ it during the task (Experiment 2). These results extend similar findings in adults, confirming the importance of ownership in determining self–other differences and provide novel evidence that object ownership influences sensorimotor processes from as early as 2 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355–367
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Early childhood
  • Embodied cognition
  • Kinematics
  • Ownership
  • Reach-to-grasp actions
  • MINE
  • SELF

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