The overall goal of the research program is to understand flexibility in motor skill acquisition-how infants, children, and adults learn to select appropriate actions, modify ongoing actions, and construct new actions in accordance with thecurrent constraints on action. Flexibility is imperative for adaptive, functional action because local conditions are continually changing. A primary source of variability is the body. Changes in body dimensions and abilities are particularly dramatic during infancy, but throughout the life span, both permanent and temporary alterations to the body change the biomechanical constraints on action. The proposed research aims to: (1) Compareflexibilityin in^nt motor skill acquisition to older children, young adults, and elderly adults based on changes in body constraints;(2) Characterize how body constraints affect the perceptual information obtained during spontaneous visual exploration;and (3) Investigate effects of body constraints in specialized perception-action systems. The studies will use apparatuses and procedures (ascending/descending adjustable cliff, reaching and locomoting through apertures, dynamic reaching in the context of ongoing movement, brachiating over monkey bars) and technologies (head- mounted eye-tracking, video tracking, computerized behavioral coding, hfiotlon tracking) developed in the previous project period to track changes inflexibilityduring leaming and development in infancy and across the life span.

Public Health Relevance

This research on basic perceptual-motor processes has implications for understanding causes of accidental injury from falling and entrapment. The focus on body constraints is relevant for understanding adaptive motor function in people with atypical body dimensions or.size due to obesity, eating disorders, pregnancy, birth defects, and injury.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Freund, Lisa S
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New York University
Other Domestic Higher Education
New York
United States
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Soska, Kasey C; Robinson, Scott R; Adolph, Karen E (2015) A new twist on old ideas: how sitting reorients crawlers. Dev Sci 18:206-18
Kretch, Kari S; Franchak, John M; Adolph, Karen E (2014) Crawling and walking infants see the world differently. Child Dev 85:1503-18
Ishak, Shaziela; Franchak, John M; Adolph, Karen E (2014) Perception-action development from infants to adults: perceiving affordances for reaching through openings. J Exp Child Psychol 117:92-105
Adolph, Karen E; Kretch, Kari S; LoBue, Vanessa (2014) Fear of heights in infants? Curr Dir Psychol Sci 23:60-66
Karasik, Lana B; Tamis-Lemonda, Catherine S; Adolph, Karen E (2014) Crawling and walking infants elicit different verbal responses from mothers. Dev Sci 17:388-95
Soska, Kasey C; Adolph, Karen E (2014) Postural position constrains multimodal object exploration in infants. Infancy 19:138-161
Shapiro, Liza J; Cole, Whitney G; Young, Jesse W et al. (2014) Human quadrupeds, primate quadrupedalism, and Uner Tan Syndrome. PLoS One 9:e101758
Franchak, John M; Adolph, Karen E (2014) Gut estimates: Pregnant women adapt to changing possibilities for squeezing through doorways. Atten Percept Psychophys 76:460-72
Cole, Whitney G; Gill, Simone V; Vereijken, Beatrix et al. (2014) Coping with asymmetry: how infants and adults walk with one elongated leg. Infant Behav Dev 37:305-14
Berger, Sarah E; Chan, Gladys L Y; Adolph, Karen E (2014) What Cruising Infants Understand about Support for Locomotion. Infancy 19:117-137

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