On the relation between action selection and movement control in 5- to 9-month-old infants.

M van Wermeskerken, J. van der Kamp, G.J.P. Savelsbergh

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    Although 5-month-old infants select action modes that are adaptive to the size of the object (i.e., one- or two-handed reaching), it has largely remained unclear whether infants of this age control the ensuing movement to the size of the object (i.e., scaling of the aperture between hands). We examined 5-, 7-, and 9-month-olds' reaching behaviors to gain more insight into the developmental changes occurring in the visual guidance of action mode selection and movement control, and the relationship between these processes. Infants were presented with a small set of objects (i.e., 2, 3, 7, and 8 cm) and a large set of objects (i.e., 6, 9, 12, and 15 cm). For the first set of objects, it was found that the infants more often performed two-handed reaches for the larger objects based on visual information alone (i.e., before making contact with the object), thus showing adaptive action mode selection relative to object size. Kinematical analyses of the two-handed reaches for the second set of objects revealed that inter-trial variance in aperture between the hands decreased with the approach toward the object, indicating that infants' reaching is constrained by the object. Subsequent analysis showed that between hand aperture scaled to object size, indicating that visual control of the movement is adjusted to object size in infants as young as 5 months. Individual analyses indicated that the two processes were not dependent and followed distinct developmental trajectories. That is, adaptive selection of an action mode was not a prerequisite for appropriate aperture scaling, and vice versa. These findings are consistent with the idea of two separate and independent visual systems (Milner and Goodale in Neuropsychologia 46:774-785, 2008) during early infancy. © 2011 The Author(s).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-62
    JournalExperimental Brain Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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