Hand preference status and reach kinematics in infants

Infant Behav Dev. 2014 Nov;37(4):615-23. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2014.08.013. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Infants show age-related improvements in reach straightness and smoothness over the first years of life as well as a decrease in average movement speed. This period of changing kinematics overlaps the emergence of handedness. We examined whether infant hand preference status is related to the development of motor control in 53 infants ranging from 11 to 14 months old. Hand preference status was assessed from reaching to a set of 5 objects presented individually at the infant's midline; infants were classified into 'right preference' or 'no preference' groups. Three-dimensional (3-D) recordings were made of each arm for reaches under two distinct conditions: pick up a ball and fit it into the opening of a toy (grasp-to-place task) or pick up a Cheerio® and consume it (grasp-to-eat task). Contrary to expectations, there was no effect of hand preference status on reach smoothness or straightness for either task. On the grasp-to-eat task only, average speed of the left hand differed as a function of hand preference status. Infants in the no preference group exhibited higher left hand average speeds than infants in the right preference group. Our results suggest that while behavioral differences in the use of the two hands may be present in some infants, these differences do not appear to be systematically linked to biases in motor control of the arms early in development.

Keywords: Hand preference; Handedness; Infant; Kinematics; Reaching.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics