Programado para ser social: a ontogenia da interação humana - mero acaso, fortuita necessidade ou design inteligente?

terça-feira, outubro 19, 2010

Wired to Be Social: The Ontogeny of Human Interaction

Umberto Castiello1*, Cristina Becchio2, Stefania Zoia3,Cristian Nelini1, Luisa Sartori1, Laura Blason3, Giuseppina D'Ottavio4, Maria Bulgheroni3, Vittorio Gallese5

1 Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy, 2Department of Psychology, Centre for Cognitive Science, University of Turin, Turin, Italy, 3 Child Neurology and Psychiatry Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Institute of Child Health IRCCS, Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy, 4 Unit for Prenatal Diagnosis, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Institute of Child Health IRCCS, Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy, 5 Department of Neuroscience, University of Parma and IIT (Italian Institute of Technology), Section of Parma, Parma, Italy



Newborns come into the world wired to socially interact. Is a propensity to socially oriented action already present before birth? Twin pregnancies provide a unique opportunity to investigate the social pre-wiring hypothesis. Although various types of inter-twins contact have been demonstrated starting from the 11th week of gestation, no study has so far investigated the critical question whether intra-pair contact is the result of motor planning rather then the accidental outcome of spatial proximity.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Kinematic profiles of movements in five pairs of twin foetuses were studied by using four-dimensional ultrasonography during two separate recording sessions carried out at the 14th and 18th week of gestation. We demonstrate that by the 14th week of gestation twin foetuses do not only display movements directed towards the uterine wall and self-directed movements, but also movements specifically aimed at the co-twin, the proportion of which increases between the 14th and 18th gestational week. 

Ultrasound image of one fetal twin caressing the other's back/Imagem de ultrassom de um dos fetos gêmeo fazendo carinho na costa do outro.
(PLoS One)

Kinematic analysis revealed that movement duration was longer and deceleration time was prolonged for other-directed movements compared to movements directed towards the uterine wall. Similar kinematic profiles were observed for movements directed towards the co-twin and self-directed movements aimed at the eye-region, i.e. the most delicate region of the body.


We conclude that performance of movements towards the co-twin is not accidental: already starting from the 14th week of gestation twin foetuses execute movements specifically aimed at the co-twin.

Citation: Castiello U, Becchio C, Zoia S, Nelini C, Sartori L, et al. (2010) Wired to Be Social: The Ontogeny of Human Interaction. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13199. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013199

Editor: Aldo Rustichini, University of Minnesota, United States of America

Received: July 15, 2010; Accepted: September 13, 2010; Published: October 7, 2010

Copyright: © 2010 Castiello et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: This work was supported by grant R.C. 44/03 of the Institute of Child Health IRCCS, Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy and by the Ministero Italiano dell' Universite e della Ricerca. C.B. was supported by a grant from the Regione Piemonte, Bando Scienze Umane e Sociali 2008, L.R. n. 4/2006. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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