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Dev Psychobiol. 2008 May;50(4):390-8. doi: 10.1002/dev.20297.

No stable arm preference during the pre-reaching period: a comparison of right and left hand kinematics with and without a toy present.

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Infant Motor Behavior Laboratory, Department of Physical Therapy, Biomechanics and Movement Sciences Program, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716, USA.


Adult hand preference emerges from complex developmental changes in arm and hand use during childhood. Recent reports have highlighted the importance of understanding arm and hand use during the first year of life including the period before reach onset. This longitudinal study tested the hypothesis that significant right-left differences exist in pre-reaching arm movements. We examined right and left hand kinematics from 13 healthy infants during trials with and without a toy present from 8 weeks of age through the week of reach onset. Significant right-left differences were found, however there was no clear pattern within a condition or across conditions. Without a toy present, the right hand moved faster, yet ended further from midline, and displayed more movements during the Late phase compared to other phases. With a toy present, the right hand moved longer lengths, yet ended movements further away from the toy. When left and right hand kinematics were combined, previous findings of right hand kinematics alone were supported. Although infants begin adapting their pre-reaching kinematics many weeks before reach onset, we did not find evidence of a systematic right--left difference before reach onset in movements with or without a toy present. Our results, coupled with other reports, suggest hand asymmetries begin to emerge over the year following reach onset amid developmental changes both within the infant, and the physical and social environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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