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Infants' motor proficiency and statistical learning for actions

Monroy, Claire, Gerson, Sarah ORCID: and Hunnius, Sabine 2017. Infants' motor proficiency and statistical learning for actions. Frontiers in Psychology 8 , 2174. 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02174

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Prior research has shown that infants learn statistical regularities in action sequences better than they learn non-action event sequences. This is consistent with current theories claiming that the same mechanism guides action observation and action execution. The current eye-tracking study tested the prediction, based on these theories, that infants’ ability to learn statistical regularities in action sequences is modulated by their own motor abilities. Eight- to eleven-month-old infants observed an action sequence containing two deterministic action pairs (i.e., action A always followed by action B) embedded within an otherwise random sequence. One pair was performed with a whole-hand grasp. The second pair was performed with a pincer grasp, a fine motor skill that emerges around 9 months of age. Infants were then categorized into groups according to which grasp was dominant in their motor repertoire. Predictive looks to correct upcoming actions during the deterministic pairs were analyzed to measure whether infants learned and anticipated the sequence regularities. Findings indicate that infants learned the statistical regularities: across motor groups, they made more correct than incorrect predictive fixations to upcoming actions. Overall, learning was not significantly modulated by their dominant grasping abilities. However, infants with a dominant pincer grasp showed an earlier increase in correct predictions for the pincer grasp pair and not the whole-hand grasp. Likewise, infants with a dominant whole-hand grasp showed an early increase in correct predictions for the pair performed with a whole-hand grasp, and not the pincer grasp. Together, these findings suggest that infants’ ability to learn action sequences is facilitated when the observed action matches their own action repertoire. However, findings cannot be explained entirely by motor accounts, as infants also learned the actions less congruent with their own abilities. Findings are discussed in terms of the interplay between the motor system and additional non-motor resources during the acquisition of new motor skills in infancy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Frontiers
ISSN: 1664-1078
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 December 2017
Date of Acceptance: 29 November 2017
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2023 15:03

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