Learning from falling

Child Dev. 2006 Jan-Feb;77(1):89-102. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00858.x.


Walkers fall frequently, especially during infancy. Children (15-, 21-, 27-, 33-, and 39-month-olds) and adults were tested in a novel foam pit paradigm to examine age-related changes in the relationship between falling and prospective control of locomotion. In trial 1, participants walked and fell into a deformable foam pit marked with distinct visual cues. Although children in all 5 age groups required multiple trials to learn to avoid falling, the number of children who showed adult-like, 1-trial learning increased with age. Exploration and alternative locomotor strategies increased dramatically on learning criterion trials and displays of negative affect were limited. Learning from falling is discussed in terms of the immediate and long-term effects of falling on prospective control of locomotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Age Factors
  • Attention
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Concept Formation*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Locomotion*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Postural Balance*
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaction Time
  • Retention, Psychology