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Manual Motor Development in Infancy: Execution and Observation of Actions
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. Uppsala university.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Of all motor skills, manual reaching might be the one ability that matters most for infants’ perceptual, cognitive and social development. Reaching allows infants to learn about object properties, but also gives opportunities for socializing with others. The general aim of the present thesis was to study the importance of manual motor development in infancy from different perspectives; first, through examining stereopsis as a prerequisite for efficient reaching development, second, with regard to understanding others goal-directed reach actions by means of the mirror neuron system (MNS), and third, in relation to possible atypical development, with a specific focus on autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Study I shows that under monocular viewing conditions, infants at six, eight and 10 months of age perform slower and less accurate reaches. Longer times to object contact during monocular trials specifically imply that motor prediction is less effective when depth and distance information is compromised.

Study II demonstrates that, by eight months of age, infants seem to have a MNS that functions in a similar manner to the adult MNS, thus activity can be registered over the motor cortex when infants simply observe an action they can master themselves. This activation is predictive, indicating anticipation of the goal of the observed reach.

Study III indicates that infants at elevated familial risk for ASD present with reduced prospective motor control at 10 months of age. Compared to a low-risk control sample, high-risk infants perform reactive rather than predictive reach actions. Follow-up assessment at 36 months will show whether this measure can be used as a predictive diagnostic marker for ASD.

The main contribution given by this work is the insight that it is important to take manual motor aspects into account when considering typical as well as atypical cognitive and social development, and in addition, that motor prediction is a key factor behind being able to timely execute and understand reaching actions. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. , 99 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 119
Keyword [en]
Infancy, Motor development, Reaching, Actions, Motor prediction, Prospective motor control, Social cognition, Stereopsis, Mirror neuron system, Mu rhythm, Motor impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, High-risk siblings
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-264869ISBN: 978-91-554-9386-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-264869DiVA: diva2:861832
Public defence
2015-12-11, Museum Gustavianum, Auditorium Minus, Akademigatan 3, 753 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-20 Created: 2015-10-19 Last updated: 2016-01-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Dynamic reaching in infants during binocular and monocular viewing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dynamic reaching in infants during binocular and monocular viewing
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2013 (English)In: Experimental Brain Research, ISSN 0014-4819, E-ISSN 1432-1106, Vol. 229, no 1, 1-12 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study examined reaching in 6-, 8-, and 10-month-olds during binocular and monocular viewing in a dynamic reaching situation. Infants were rotated toward a flat vertical board and reached for objects at one of seven positions along a horizontal line at shoulder height. Hand selection, time to contact the object, and reaching accuracy were examined in both viewing conditions. Hand selection was strongly dependent on object location, not on infants' age or whether one eye was covered. Monocular viewing and age did, however, affect time to object contact and contact errors: Infants showed longer contact times when one eye was covered, and 6-month-olds made more contact errors in the monocular condition. For right-hand selection, contact times were longer when the covered right eye was leading during the chair rotation. For left-hand selection, there were no differences in contact time due to whether the covered eye was leading during rotation.

Keyword
Reaching, Monocular-binocular, Infants, Prospective control
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-206570 (URN)10.1007/s00221-013-3588-z (DOI)000322171500001 ()
Available from: 2013-09-02 Created: 2013-09-02 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Using mu rhythm desynchronization to measure mirror neuron activity in infants
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using mu rhythm desynchronization to measure mirror neuron activity in infants
2011 (English)In: Developmental Science, ISSN 1363-755X, E-ISSN 1467-7687, Vol. 14, no 2, 327-335 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Mirror Neuron System hypothesis stating that observed actions are projected onto the observer's own action system assigns an important role to development, because only actions mastered by the observer can be mirrored. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether there is evidence of a functioning mirror neuron system (MNS) in 8-month-old infants. High-density EEG was used to assess the mu rhythm desynchronization in an action observation task where the infants observed a live model. To reduce noise, ICA decompositions were used. The results show a higher desynchronization of the mu rhythm when infants observed a goal-directed action than when they observed a spatially similar non-goal-directed movement. The localizations of the sources are in agreement with those proposed by the MNS hypothesis. This indicates that the MNS is functioning at this age.

National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-152649 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.00979.x (DOI)000287489500018 ()
Available from: 2011-04-29 Created: 2011-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
3. Reduced Prospective Motor Control in 10-month-olds at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reduced Prospective Motor Control in 10-month-olds at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Clinical Psychological Science, ISSN 2167-7026, E-ISSN 2167-7034, Vol. 4, no 1, 129-135 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Motor impairments are not a part of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but are overrepresented in the ASD population. Deficits in prospective motor control have been demonstrated in adults and older children with ASD but have never before been examined in infants at familial risk for the disorder. We assessed the ability to prospectively control reach-to-grasp actions in 10-month-old siblings of children with ASD (high-risk group, n = 29, 13 female) as well as in a low-risk control group (n = 16, 8 female). The task was to catch a ball rolling on a curvilinear path off an inclined surface. The low-risk group performed predictive reaches when catching the ball, whereas the high-risk group started their movements reactively. The high-risk group started their reaches significantly later than the low-risk group (p = .03). These results indicate impaired prospective motor control in infants susceptible for ASD.

Keyword
prospective motor control, autism spectrum disorder, siblings, motor development
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-264436 (URN)10.1177/2167702615576697 (DOI)000408532100011 ()
Available from: 2015-10-12 Created: 2015-10-12 Last updated: 2017-11-23Bibliographically approved

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