Development of reaching in infancy

Research Article


The development of reaching for stationary objects was studied longitudinally in 12 human infants: 5 from the time of reach onset to 5 months of age, 5 from 6 to 20 months of age, and 2 from reach onset to 20 months of age. We used linear mixed-effects statistical modeling and found a gradual slowing of reach speed and a more rapid decrease of movement jerk with increasing age. The elbow was essentially locked during early reaching, but was prominently used by 6 months. Differences between infants were distributed normally and no evidence of different types of reachers was found. The current work combined with other longitudinal studies of infant reaching shows that the increase in skill over the first 2 years of life is seen, not by an increase in reaching speed, but by an increase in reach smoothness. By the end of the second year, the overall speed profile of reaching is approaching the typical adult profile where an early acceleration of the hand brings the hand to the region of the target with a smooth transition to a lower-speed phase where grasp is accomplished.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstUSA

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