Task constraints and infant grip configurations

K. M. Newell, D. M. Scully, P. V. McDonald, Renée Baillargeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prehensile grip configurations of infants aged 4 through 8 months were examined as they grasped objects that varied in size and shape. The findings revealed that infants as young as 4 months systematically differentiate grip configurations as a function of the object properties in essentially the same way that 8‐month‐old infants do. However, the younger 4‐month‐old infants predominantly used the haptic system in additional to the visual system for information pick‐up regarding object properties, whereas 8‐month‐old infants predominantly used information from the visual system alone to differentiate grip configurations according to the object properties. Infants apparently percive the same action‐relevent information through different emphases of the sensory modes to drive the action system with a similar grip configuration for a given object. It is proposed that the traditional description of an orderly sequence to the development of infant prehension (e.g., Halverson, 1931) is too conservative and inflexible to capture the functionally adaptive prehensile behavior of infants to changing task constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-831
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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