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WIREs Cogn Sci
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The development of motor behavior

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This article reviews research on the development of motor behavior from a developmental systems perspective. We focus on infancy when basic action systems are acquired. Posture provides a stable base for locomotion, manual actions, and facial actions. Experience facilitates improvements in motor behavior and infants accumulate immense amounts of experience with all of their basic action systems. At every point in development, perception guides motor behavior by providing feedback about the results of just prior movements and information about what to do next. Reciprocally, the development of motor behavior provides fodder for perception. More generally, motor development brings about new opportunities for acquiring knowledge about the world, and burgeoning motor skills can instigate cascades of developmental changes in perceptual, cognitive, and social domains. WIREs Cogn Sci 2017, 8:e1430. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1430

This article is categorized under:

  • Psychology > Development and Aging
  • Psychology > Motor Skill and Performance
Typical example of milestone chart illustrating age‐related changes in postural development. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2010 Taylor and Francis)
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(a) Head‐mounted eye‐tracker worn by a 14‐month‐old infant. An outward facing ‘scene camera’ records the infant's field of view, and an inward facing ‘eye camera’ records movements of the infant's right eye. Computer software calculates point of gaze. (b) Processed gaze video with red crosshair showing the infant's point of gaze. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2011 Wiley)
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Nine‐month‐old infant grasping a spoon (a) by the bowl or (b) with an ulnar grip that points the bowl away from the mouth. (c) An 18‐month‐old using a radial grip that correctly brings food to the mouth. (d) Variety of pen grips used by 3‐ and 5‐year‐olds and adults. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1999 APA and Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1998 Wiley)
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Three‐month‐old infant ‘feet reaching’ by contacting an object with the foot. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2015 Taylor and Francis)
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(a) ‘Visual cliff’ with safety glass covering an apparent drop‐off. (c) Real cliff with adjustable height of drop‐off. (c) Sitting at the edge of an adjustable gap. (d) Cruising an adjustable gap in the handrail. (e) Walking across adjustable bridges. (f) Crawling down an adjustable slope. (g) Walking down a slope with a Teflon‐coated section. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2015 Taylor and Francis)
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Formal massage and exercise routines used in Africa, India, and the Caribbean that facilitate motor development. (a) Massage; (b and c) Suspending the infant from the arms and feet; (d) Mother providing sitting practice; (e and f) Practicing stepping in an upright posture. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1988 APA and Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2015 Taylor and Francis)
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(A) Some of the strategies infants use to descend slopes: Scooting down in a sitting position, crawling on hands and knees, sliding head‐first while prone, and turning their bodies to back down feet first. (B) Some of the strategies infants use to cross bridges holding a wobbly handrail for support. Infants employ a ‘hunchback’ strategy by pushing down on the rail to make it taut, walk sideways while leaning backward as if ‘windsurfing,’ walking forward and pulling back on the rail as if ‘mountain climbing,’ and ‘drunkenly’ leaning against the rail as they staggered forward. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1997 American Psychological Association (APA) and Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2005 Wiley)
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Variations in infants’ crawling patterns. Left column shows four different crawling styles: ‘army’ crawling with the abdomen continually resting on the ground, ‘inchworm’ crawling with the belly on and off the ground during each cycle, standard hands‐and‐knees crawling, and hands‐and‐feet ‘bear’ crawling. Center column represents combinations of arms and legs used to propel the body. Right column shows combinations of belly, hands, knees, and feet used to maintain balance. Each row shows a unique crawling pattern. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1998 Wiley)
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Toddler losing balance in a ‘moving room.’ Child stands on a solid floor surrounded by walls that move back and forth along a track. Here, the walls move toward the child creating the visual illusion of the body swaying forward; the child compensates by swaying backward. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 1989 American Psychological Association)
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