Many developmental theories are built on the premise that freedom to move is necessary for healthy infant development and restricted movement is harmful. However, these theories were based on studies comparing Western infants whose caregivers used childrearing practices that encourage movement to children reared in impoverished environments such as orphanages in which they are deprived of opportunities to move freely but are also deprived of social interaction and affection. Infants raised in such impoverished environments display sweeping developmental delays that are not necessarily tied directly to restricted movement. This project capitalizes on a rare chance to study long-term effects of restricted movement on infant development by examining the use of a "gahvora" cradle in Tajikistan, Central Asia. Infants experience restricted movement in the gahvora but these infants are immersed in family life and therefore not otherwise deprived of social interaction.

Investigators Karasik, Adolph, and Tamis-LeMonda build upon the findings from their NSF-funded cross-sectional study in which they characterized variation in cradle use in infancy and explored how it relates to variability in motor development. The current project uses longitudinal sampling to examine concurrent effects of restricted movement on motor skills in infancy in 12- to 20-month-olds and long-term consequences after cradle use has ceased, at three to five years of age. This work will also provide insights into cascading effects of infant motor skills on development in other domains such as interactions with objects and people.

This study examines core issues in developmental psychology, including the effects of early motor experience and restricted movement on infant and child motor development. In particular, the study addresses whether restriction has immediate and long-lasting influence on motor development. Data will be shared with the broader scientific community through the video data-sharing library. This project will engage undergraduate students and researchers in the U.S. and abroad by offering training in research methods and developmental science.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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Peter Vishton
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CUNY College of Staten Island
Staten Island
United States
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