Decoding actions and emotions in deaf children: Evidence from a biological motion task
This study aimed to explore the recognition of emotional and non-emotional biological movements in children with severe and profound deafness. Twenty-four deaf children, together with 24 control children matched on mental age and 24 control children matched on chronological age, were asked to identify a person's actions, subjective states, emotions, and objects conveyed by moving point-light displays. Results showed that when observing point-light displays, deaf children showed impairments across all conditions (emotions, actions, and moving objects) compared with their chronological age-matched controls but showed no differences across subjective states. The results are supportive that deaf children present developmental delays in their biological motion apart from the ones relative to their own mental state, and this may be interpreted in relation to the expertise they have acquired in decoding action toward themselves. The findings are discussed in relation to deaf children viewing motion stimuli very differently to hearing children.