Infant exploratory learning: influence on leg joint coordination.

PLoS ONE. 2014;9(3):e91500 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0091500

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, XML

 

AUTHORS

Barbara Sargent
Nicolas Schweighofer
Masayoshi Kubo
Linda Fetters

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

A critical issue in the study of infant development is to identify the processes by which task-specific action emerges from spontaneous movement. Emergent leg action has been studied by providing contingent reinforcement to specific leg movements using an overhead infant-activated mobile, however, there is limited information on the strategies used by infants to support the emergence of task-specific leg action from spontaneous movement. The purpose of this study is to (1) determine the ability of 3 month old infants to learn, through discovery, the contingency between leg action and mobile activation using a virtual threshold, and (2) identify strategies, defined by variance of the end-effectors (feet) and hip-knee joint coordination, used by infants that learned the contingency. Fourteen 3 month old infants participated in 2 sessions of mobile reinforcement on consecutive days. As a group, infants increased the percentage of mobile activation to meet performance criteria on Day 2, but did not meet memory or learning criteria across days. However, five infants learned the contingency based on individual learning criteria. When interacting with the mobile on Day 2 as compared to spontaneous kicking on Day 1, infants who learned the contingency, but not infants who did not learn the contingency, increased variance of the end-effectors (feet) in the vertical, task-specific direction and demonstrated less in-phase hip-knee joint coordination. An important discovery is that infants can discover this very specific contingency, suggesting that this movement behavior (action) can be shaped in future work. This may have implications for the rehabilitation of infants with atypical leg action.