Structuring of early reaching movements: a longitudinal study

J Mot Behav. 1991 Dec;23(4):280-92. doi: 10.1080/00222895.1991.9942039.


Reaches, performed by 5 infants, recorded at 19 weeks of age and every third week thereafter until 31 weeks of age, were studied quantitatively. Earlier findings about action units were confirmed. At all ages studied, movements were structured into phases of acceleration and deceleration. Reaching trajectories were found to be relatively straight within these units and to change direction between them. It was also found that at all ages, there was generally one dominating transport unit in each reach. The structuring of reaching movements changed in four important ways during the period studied. First, the sequential structuring became more systematic with age, with the dominating transport unit beginning the movement. Second, the duration of the transport unit became longer and covered a larger proportion of the approach. Third, the number of action units decreased with age, approaching the two-phase structure of adult reaching. Finally, reaching trajectories became straighter with age.