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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00009

Development of infant reaching strategies to tactile targets on the face

  • 1Tulane University, United States
  • 2Czech Technical University in Prague, Czechia

Infant development of reaching to tactile targets on the skin has been studied little, despite its daily use during adaptive behaviors such as removing foreign stimuli or scratching an itch. We longitudinally examined the development of infant reaching strategies (from just under 2 to 11 months) approximately every other week with a vibrotactile stimulus applied to eight different locations on the face (left/right/center temple, left/right ear, left/right mouth corners, chin). Successfully reaching for the stimulus uses tactile input and proprioception to localize the target and move the hand to it. We studied the developmental progression of reaching and grasping strategies. As infants became older the likelihood of using the hand to reach to the target - versus touching the target with another body part or surface such as the upper arm or chair - increased. For trials where infants reached to the target with the hand, infants also refined their hand postures with age. As infants became older, they made fewer contacts with a closed fist or the dorsal part of the hand and more touches/grasps with the fingers or palm. Results suggest that during the first year of life infants become able to act more precisely on tactile targets on the face.

Keywords: reaching, tactile localization, prehension, Motor development, multisensory coordination, hand-to-mouth coordination

Received: 31 Aug 2018; Accepted: 04 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Claudia Gianelli, Universität Potsdam, Germany

Reviewed by:

Elias Manjarrez, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico
Verónica C. Ramenzoni, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina  

Copyright: © 2019 Chinn, Noonan, Hoffmann and Lockman. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Jeffrey J. Lockman, Tulane University, New Orleans, United States, lockman@tulane.edu