Infants prospectively control reaching based on the difficulty of future actions – To what extent can infants’ multiple step actions be explained by Fitts’ law?
Gottwald, J.M., De Bortoli Vizioli, A., Lindskog, M., Nyström, P., Ekberg, T.L., von Hofsten, C., & Gredebäck, G. (2017). Infants prospectively control reaching based on the difficulty of future actions – To what extent can infants’ multiple step actions be explained by Fitts’ law? Developmental Psychology, 53(1), 4-12. Find this article here
Abstract: Prospective motor control, a key element of action planning, is the ability to adjust one’s actions with respect to task demands and action goals in an anticipatory manner. The current study investigates whether 14-month-olds can prospectively control their reaching actions based on the difficulty of the subsequent action. We used a reach-to-place task, with difficulty of the placing action varied by goal size and goal distance. To target prospective motor control, we determined the kinematics of the prior reaching movements using a motion-tracking system. Peak velocity of the first movement unit of the reach served as indicator for prospective motor control. Both difficulty aspects (goal size and goal distance) affected prior reaching, suggesting that both these aspects of the subsequent action have an impact on the prior action. The smaller the goal size and the longer the distance to the goal, the slower infants were in the beginning of their reach toward the object. Additionally, we modeled movement times of both reaching and placing actions using a formulation of Fitts’ law (as in heading). The model was significant for placement and reaching movement times. These findings suggest that 14-month-olds can plan their future actions and prospectively control their related movements with respect to future task difficulties.