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Specialization of the motor system in human infants: From broadly tuned to selectively specialized purposeful actions.

D'Souza, Hana; Cowie, Dorothy; Karmiloff-Smith, Annette and Bremner, Andrew J.. 2016. Specialization of the motor system in human infants: From broadly tuned to selectively specialized purposeful actions. Developmental Science, 20(4), e12409. ISSN 1363-755X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In executing purposeful actions, adults select sufficient and necessary limbs. But infants often move goal-irrelevant limbs, suggesting a developmental process of motor specialization. Two experiments with 9- and 12-month-olds revealed gradual decreases in extraneous movements in non-acting limbs during unimanual actions. In Experiment 1, 9-month-olds produced more extraneous movements in the non-acting hand/arm and feet/legs than 12 month-olds. In Experiment 2, analysis of the spatiotemporal dynamics of infants’ movements revealed developmental declines in the spatiotemporal coupling of movements between acting and non acting hands/arms. We also showed that the degree of specialization in infants’ unimanual actions is associated with individual differences in motor experience and visual attention, indicating the experience-dependent and broad functional nature of these developmental changes. Our study provides important new insights into motor development: as in cognitive domains, motor behaviours are initially broadly tuned to their goal, becoming progressively specialized during the first year of life.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12409

Keywords:

motor development, extraneous movements, motor overflow, specialization, infancy, reaching, action

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
4 January 2016Accepted
2 June 2016Published Online
7 June 2016Published

Item ID:

17759

Date Deposited:

15 Apr 2016 14:28

Last Modified:

21 Feb 2019 14:24

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/17759

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