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)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
Program Officer
Freund, Lisa S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
New York University
Other Domestic Higher Education
New York
United States
Zip Code
Franchak, John M; Kretch, Kari S; Adolph, Karen E (2018) See and be seen: Infant-caregiver social looking during locomotor free play. Dev Sci 21:e12626
Adolph, Karen E; Hoch, Justine E; Cole, Whitney G (2018) Development (of Walking): 15 Suggestions. Trends Cogn Sci 22:699-711
Ossmy, Ori; Hoch, Justine E; MacAlpine, Patrick et al. (2018) Variety Wins: Soccer-Playing Robots and Infant Walking. Front Neurorobot 12:19
Hoch, Justine E; O'Grady, Sinclaire M; Adolph, Karen E (2018) It's the journey, not the destination: Locomotor exploration in infants. Dev Sci :e12740
Lee, Do Kyeong; Cole, Whitney G; Golenia, Laura et al. (2018) The cost of simplifying complex developmental phenomena: a new perspective on learning to walk. Dev Sci 21:e12615
Rachwani, Jaya; Soska, Kasey C; Adolph, Karen E (2017) Behavioral flexibility in learning to sit. Dev Psychobiol 59:937-948
Adolph, Karen E; Franchak, John M (2017) The development of motor behavior. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci 8:
Kretch, Kari S; Adolph, Karen E (2017) The organization of exploratory behaviors in infant locomotor planning. Dev Sci 20:
Comalli, D M; Persand, D; Adolph, K E (2017) Motor decisions are not black and white: selecting actions in the ""gray zone"". Exp Brain Res 235:1793-1807
Cole, Whitney G; Robinson, Scott R; Adolph, Karen E (2016) Bouts of steps: The organization of infant exploration. Dev Psychobiol 58:341-54

Showing the most recent 10 out of 59 publications