Date of Award
Master of Arts
Greg Reynolds, Shannon Ross-Sheehy
The development of reaching in early infancy is a monumental milestone that signifies their independence and agency in their environment. Classically however, studies on infant reaching have been heavily limited to simple, single component objects that do not afford infants different areas from which to choose interest or reaching locations. Furthermore, the relationship between looking and reaching has been mainly derived from movement and kinematic analyses of the elements of the reach. To fully understand the impact of object properties on reaching, the visual patterns of the infants need to be accounted for during the reach towards and contact with the object.The current study looks at the reaching and looking patterns of 21 infants aged 9 months when presented with rod, drumstick- or dumbbell-shaped objects. We observed where infants looked at on the object during their reaches. These looking patterns were then later compared to the area of the object that infants contacted first. Infants demonstrated three visual-manual coordination strategies: targeted, where infants maintained fixation on the object area to be contacted; catch-up, in which infants initially looked elsewhere before matching object contact and object fixation location, and untargeted where fixation and object contact location did not match. The current findings indicate that infants employ different strategies when reaching for objects regardless of the shape of the object. First view reach latencies were shorter for subsequent contacts made to the rod locations and infants employed a catch-up strategy more often when opted to choose between locations with visually distinct sections of the same object (i.e. a rod or a ball of a drumstick). Further studies are needed to understand the degree to which visual fixations and saccades relate to kinematic changes present between employed strategies.
Connell, John Paul, "The Impact of Objects’ Visual Properties on Infant Reaching Strategies. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2020.