Motion tracking in developmental research: Methods, considerations, and applications

Johanna E. van Schaik, Nadia Dominici*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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In this chapter, we explore the use of motion tracking methodology in developmental research. With motion tracking, also called motion capture, human movements can be precisely recorded and analyzed. Motion tracking provides developmental researchers with objective measurements of motor and (socio-)cognitive development. It can further be used to create carefully-controlled stimuli videos and can offer means of measuring development outside of the lab. We discuss three types of motion tracking that lend themselves to developmental applications. First, marker-based systems track optical or electromagnetic markers or sensors placed on the body and offer high accuracy measurements. Second, markerless methods entail image processing of videos to track the movement of bodies without participants being hindered by physical markers. Third, inertial motion tracking measures three-dimensional movements and can be used in a variety of settings. The chapter concludes by examining three example topics from developmental literature in which motion tracking applications have contributed to our understanding of human development.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Perspectives on Early Social-cognitive Development
EditorsSabine Hunnius, Marlene Meyer
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780128205174
ISBN (Print)9780128205167
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameProgress in Brain Research
ISSN (Print)0079-6123
ISSN (Electronic)1875-7855


  • Developmental populations
  • Image processing
  • Inertial
  • Marker-based
  • Markerless
  • Motion capture
  • Motion tracking


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