This study investigated the ability of preterm infants to learn an object shape with one hand and discriminate a new shape in the opposite hand (without visual control). Twenty-four preterm infants between 33 and 34 + 6 gestational weeks received a tactile habituation task with either their right or left hand followed by a tactile discrimination task in the opposite hand. The results confirmed that habituation occurred for both shapes and both hands. Infants subsequently held the novel shape longer in the opposite hand. The results reveal that preterm infants are capable of intermanual transfer of shape information. In spite of the immaturity of the corpus callosum in preterm infants, its development seems to be sufficient to allow some transfer of information between both hands.
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.