Motor development. A new synthesis

Am Psychol. 1995 Feb;50(2):79-95. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.50.2.79.


The study of the acquisition of motor skills, long moribund in developmental psychology, has seen a renaissance in the last decade. Inspired by contemporary work in movement science, perceptual psychology, neuroscience, and dynamic systems theory, multidisciplinary approaches are affording new insights into the processes by which infants and children learn to control their bodies. In particular, the new synthesis emphasizes the multicausal, fluid, contextual, and self-organizing nature of developmental change, the unity of perception, action, and cognition, and the role of exploration and selection in the emergence of new behavior. Studies are concerned less with how children perform and more with how the components cooperate to produce stability or engender change. Such process approaches make moot the traditional nature-nurture debates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child Development* / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Motor Skills* / physiology
  • Psychophysiology