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Predictive action in infancy: tracking and reaching for moving objects
Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MAS, USA.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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1998 (English)In: Cognition, ISSN 0010-0277, E-ISSN 1873-7838, Vol. 67, no 3, 255-285 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Because action plans must anticipate the states of the world which will be obtained when the actions take place, effective actions depend on predictions. The present experiments begin to explore the principles underlying early-developing predictions of object motion, by focusing on 6-month-old infants' head tracking and reaching for moving objects. Infants were presented with an object that moved into reaching space on four trajectories: two linear trajectories that intersected at the center of a display and two trajectories containing a sudden turn at the point of intersection. In two studies, infants' tracking and reaching provided evidence for an extrapolation of the object motion on linear paths, in accord with the principle of inertia. This tendency was remarkably resistant to counter-evidence, for it was observed even after repeated presentations of an object that violated the principle of inertia by spontaneously stopping and then moving in a new direction. In contrast to the present findings, infants fail to extrapolate linear object motion in preferential looking experiments, suggesting that early-developing knowledge of object motion, like mature knowledge, is embedded in multiple systems of representation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 1998. Vol. 67, no 3, 255-285 p.
Keyword [en]
reaching, infant cognition, interia
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-19097DOI: 1016/S0010-0277(98)00029-8OAI: diva2:201373
Available from: 2009-03-04 Created: 2009-03-04 Last updated: 2011-06-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Predictive action in infancy: Evidence of early prospective behavior
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Predictive action in infancy: Evidence of early prospective behavior
2009 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

How do young infants understand and act on their constantly changing environment? An action perspective on motor development was taken into account. The present thesis investigated perception guided predictive action in 6-month-old infants, namely, head tracking and reaching for an object moving on a pre-defined trajectory, linear or nonlinear, fully visible or partially occluded. The motion trials were presented in a randomized order or in a way by using an ABBA block design.

Study I of this thesis began with the exploration of the principles underlying infant predictive action. Infants were presented a fully visible moving object on four trajectories: two linear trajectories that intersected at the center of a display and two non-linear trajectories that contained a sudden turn at the point of intersection. The results supplied evidence that both infants’ head tracking and reaching showed an extrapolation of the object’s motion on linear paths, which was described by the principle of inertia. No learning effect was found in spite of repeated fully visible trials. Previous experiments reported that infants of similar age showed a reduction in reaching when object motion was occluded briefly.

Thus Study II was undertaken, in part, to evaluate whether differences in the tasks resented to infants or differences in the visibility of the objects account for these findings. This was done by investigating infants’ predictive head tracking of an object following the procedure presented in Study I with only one exception: object motion was partially occluded by a small occluder positioned on the motion trajectory. Study II also raised a second question concerning infants’ ability to learn to anticipate upcoming object motions. It was found that infants were able to quickly learn to anticipate either linear or nonlinear motion but with a superior learning effect from linear motion. This pattern suggested a tendency to anticipate the upcoming motion in accord with inertia. Although a capacity to anticipate occluded object motion in accord with inertia was present, it was weak, as infants’ initial reaction to the occluded object motion revealed no such tendency. Learning in all cases was associated with the trajectory of the object, not the specific locations at which the object appeared. It was suggested that infants might form object representations that are influenced by learning and that are just weakly biased toward inertia extrapolation. This finding supported the claims that occlusion reduces the presentation of object representation, as suggested by single system of object representation theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för psykologi, Umeå universitet, 2009. 52 p.
Umeå Psychology Supplement Reports, ISSN 1653-7688 ; 13
National Category
Social Sciences Psychology
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-20299 (URN)
Institutionen för psykologi, 90187, Umeå
Beteendevetarhuset, Bt 102, Umeå universitet, Umeå (English)
Available from: 2009-04-15 Created: 2009-03-18 Last updated: 2011-06-07Bibliographically approved

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