Eye, head and trunk control: the foundation for manual development

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1998 Jul;22(4):515-20. doi: 10.1016/s0149-7634(97)00038-9.


Mastery of reaching and manipulation relies on adequate postural control. The trunk must be balanced relative to a base of support to allow free movements of the arms and hands. Moreover, the head must be supported flexibly by the trunk so that gaze can be directed toward the target to provide a spatial frame of reference for reaching. For fine manipulation it is also crucial to avoid retinal slips which would introduce blur. Stabilizing gaze is generally accomplished through adjustments of both eye and head position. Until gaze is stabilized, it is difficult to establish a frame of reference between the target and the self. Thus, a nested hierarchy of support involving the eyes, head, and trunk forms an important foundation for manual activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Head Movements / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Thorax / growth & development
  • Thorax / physiology*