Catching moving objects: Differential effects of background motion on action mode selection and movement control in 6- to 10-month-old infants

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Abstract

In human adults the use of visual information for selecting appropriate modes for action appears to be separate from the use of visual information for the control of movements of which the action is composed (Milner & Goodale, [1995] The visual brain in action; [2008] Neuropsychologia 46:774–785). More specifically, action mode selection primarily relies upon allocentric information, whereas movement control mainly exploits egocentric information. In the present study, we investigated to what degree this division is already present in 6- to 10-month-old infants when reaching for moving objects; that is, whether allocentric information is uniquely exploited for action mode selection (i.e., reaching with one or the other hand) or whether it is also used for movement control (i.e., reaching kinematics). Infants were presented with laterally approaching objects at two speeds (i.e., 20 and 40 cm/s) against a stationary or moving background. Background motion affects allocentric information about the object's velocity relative to its background. Results indicated that object speed constrained both infants' action mode selection and movement control. Importantly, however, the influence of background motion was limited to action mode selection and did not extend to movement control. The findings provide further support for the contention that during early development information usage is—at least to some degree—separated for action mode selection and movement control. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 57: 921–934, 2015.

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