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Foroud A, Whishaw IQ (2012) The consummatory origins of visually guided reaching in human infants: a dynamic integration of whole-body and upper-limb movements. Behavioural Brain Research, 231(2):343-355    
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► Movement notation was used to identify infantile reaching patterns. ► Five movement patterns form the developmental sequence for skilled limb reaching. ► Developmental sequence of skilled limb reaching involves the whole body. ► Directed movements transition from head- and mouth- to hand-centred reaching. ► Ontogeny of hand-directed reaching reflects drive to grasp objects with the mouth
Abstract
Reaching-to-eat (skilled reaching) is a natural behaviour that involves reaching for, grasping and withdrawing a target to be placed into the mouth for eating. It is an action performed daily by adults and is among the first complex behaviours to develop in infants. During development, visually guided reaching becomes increasingly refined to the point that grasping of small objects with precision grips of the digits occurs at about one year of age. Integration of the hand, upper-limbs, and whole body are required for successful reaching, but the ontogeny of this integration has not been described. The present longitudinal study used Laban Movement Analysis, a behavioural descriptive method, to investigate the developmental progression of the use and integration of axial, proximal, and distal movements performed during visually guided reaching. Four infants (from 7 to 40 weeks age) were presented with graspable objects (toys or food items). The first prereaching stage was associated with activation of mouth, limb, and hand movements to a visually presented target. Next, reaching attempts consisted of first, the advancement of the head with an opening mouth and then with the head, trunk and opening mouth. Eventually, the axial movements gave way to the refined action of one upper-limb supported by axial adjustments. These findings are discussed in relation to the biological objective of reaching, the evolutionary origins of reaching, and the decomposition of reaching after neurological injury