Toward an Action-Based Theory of Infant Development

  • Esther Thelen
  • Alan Fogel
Part of the Perspectives in Developmental Psychology book series (PDPS)

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to explore a theory of infant development grounded in an analysis of action. This account differs from customary theories of early development in several ways. First, it is preeminently a movement-based, “bottom-up” account of behavior in the sensorimotor period. Developmentalists, like other psychologists, have been concerned primarily with the formation of the complex symbolic and affective processes of the “life of the mind” and have paid less attention to the translation of ideas into movement—a “life of the limbs.” Infants, however, are born with much movement and few ideas and, for the first year or so, lack symbolic and verbal mediating mechanisms between their mental state and the expressions of their bodies and limbs. At this stage of the life cycle, then, the link between the developing mind and the developing limbs may be especially direct. We see this formulation in no way competing with theories that focus more directly on mental structures but rather as a complement and supplement to understanding the development of cognition.

Keywords

Developmental Change Motor Behavior Young Infant Motor Development Coordinative Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abraham, R. H., Sr Shaw, C. D. (1982). Dynamics—The geometry of behavior. Santa Cruz, CA: Aerial Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alberch, P. (1982). The generative and regulatory roles of development in evolution. In C. Roth (Ed.), Environmental adaptation and evolution, (pp. 19–36 ). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  3. Anokhin, P. K. (1964). Systemogenesis as a general regulator of brain development. Progress in Brain Research, 9, 54–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arutyunyan, G. H., Gurfinkel, V. S., & Mirksy, M. L. (1969). Investigation of aiming at a target. Biophysics, 13, 536–538.Google Scholar
  5. Bakeman, R., & Adamson, L. B. (1984). Coordinating attention to people and objects in mother-infant and peer-infant interaction. Child Development, 55, 1278–1289.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bates, E. (1979). The emergence of symbols: Cognition and communication in infancy. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bates, E., Camaioni, L., & Volterra, V. (1975). The acquisition of performatives prior to speech. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 21, 205–226.Google Scholar
  8. Bates, E., O’Connell, B., Vaid, J., Sledge, P., & Oakes, L. (1985). Language and hand preference in early development. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Child Development, Toronto.Google Scholar
  9. Bateson, P. (1984). Sudden changes in ontogeny and phylogeny. In G. Greenberg & E. Tobach (Eds.), Behavioral evolution and integrative levels, (pp. 155–166 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  10. Bernstein, N. (1967). Co-ordination and regulation of movements. New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bertalanffy, L. von. (1986). General system theory. New York: George Braziller.Google Scholar
  12. Bloom, L., Lifter, K., & Broughton, J. (1981). What children say and what they know: Exploring the relations between product and process in the development of early words and early concepts. In R. Stark (Ed.), Language behavior in infancy and early childhood, (pp. 301–326 ). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  13. Bosma, J. F. (1975). Anatomic and physiologic development in the speech apparatus. In D. B. Tower (Ed.), The Nervous System, Vol. 3: Human Communication and its disorders, (pp. 469–481 ). New York: Raven Press.Google Scholar
  14. Brazelton, T. B. (1973). Neonatal behavioral assessment scale. London: S.I.M.P. and Heinemann Medical Books.Google Scholar
  15. Brent, S. B. (1978). Prigoginé s model for self-organization in nonequilibrium systems: Its relevance for developmental psychology. Human Development, 21 374–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bruner, J. (1975). The ontogenesis of speech acts. Journal of Child Language, 2, 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Clark, J. E., & Phillips, S. J. (1985). The organization of upright locomotion. Paper presented at the Biannual Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Toronto.Google Scholar
  18. Connolly, K., & Elliott, J. (1972). The evolution and ontogeny of hand function. In N. Blurton Jones (Ed.), Ethological studies of child behavior, (pp. 329–384 ). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Cooke, J. D. (1980). The organization of simple, skilled movements. In G. E. Stelmach and J. Requin (Eds.), Tutorials in Motor Behavior, (pp. 199–212 ). New York: North-Holland.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Demos, V. (1982). Facial expressions of infants and toddlers: A descriptive analysis. In T. Field & A. Fogel (Eds.), Emotion and early interaction, (pp. 127–160 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Ekman, P., Friessen, W., & Ellsworth, P. (1972). Emotion in the human face. New York: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  22. Engberg, I., & Lundberg, A. (1969). An electromyographic analysis of muscular activity in the hindlimb of the cat during unrestrained locomotion. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 75, 614–630.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fentress, J. C. (1984). The development of coordination. Journal of Motor Behavior, 16, 99–134.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Fogel, A. (1980). The effect of brief separations on two-month-old infants. Infant Behavior and Development, 3, 315–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fogel, A. (1981). The ontogeny of gestural communication: The first six months. In R. E. Stark (Ed.), Language behavior in infancy and early childhood, (pp. 17–44 ). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  26. Fogel, A. (1982a). Affect dynamics in early infancy: Affective tolerance. In T. Field & A. Fogel (Eds.), Emotion and early interaction, (pp. 25–26 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  27. Fogel, A. (1982b). Social play, positive affect and coping skills in the first six months of life. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 2, 53–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fogel, A. (1985). Coordinative structures in the development of expressive behavior in early infancy. In G. Zivin (Ed.), The development of expressive behavior: Biology-environment interaction, (pp. 249–267 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  29. Fogel, A., & Hannan, T. E. (1985). Manual actions of two-to three-month-old human infants during social interaction. Child Development, 56, 1271–1279.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Forssberg, H. (1985). Ontogeny of human locomotor control. I. Infant stepping, supported locomotion, and transition to independent locomotion. Experimental Brain Research, 57, 480–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gesell, A. (1945). The embryology of behavior. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  32. Gierer, A. (1981). Generation of biological patterns and form: Some physical, mathematical, and logical aspects. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, 37, 1–47.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goodwin, B. C. (1982). Development and evolution. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 97, 43–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gould, S. J. (1977). Ontogeny and phylogeny. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Greene, P. H. (1972). Problems of organization of motor systems. In R. Rosen & F. Snell (Eds.), Progress in theoretical biology, (pp. 303–338 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  36. Grillner, S. (1985). Neurobiological bases of rhythmic motor acts in vertebrates. Science, 228, 143–149.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Gustafson, G. E. (1984). Effects of the ability to locomote on infants’ social and exploratory behaviors: An experimental study. Developmental Psychology, 20, 397–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Haken, H. (1977). Synergetics: An introduction. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hannan, T. E. (1981). Infant “pointing” behavior in the first three months of life. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Purdue University.Google Scholar
  40. Hannan, T. E. (1982). Young infant’s hand and finger movements: An analysis of category reliability. In T. Field and A. Fogel (Eds.), Emotion and early interaction, (pp. 253–266 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  41. Heriza, C. (1985). The organization of spontaneous leg movements in premature infants. Paper presented at Bienniel Meeting, Society for Research in Child Development, Toronto.Google Scholar
  42. Hoyt, D. F., & Taylor, C. R. (1981). Gait and the energetics of locomotion in horses. Nature, 292, 239–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Iberall, A. S. (1972). Toward a general science of viable systems. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  44. Iberall, A. S., & Soodak, H. (1978). Physical basis for complex systems -Some propositions relating levels of organization. Collecting Phenomena, 3, 9–24.Google Scholar
  45. Katchalsky, A. K., Rowland, V., & Blumenthal, R. (Eds.) (1974). Dynamic patterns of brain cell assemblies. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  46. Kaye, K. (1982). The mental and social life of babies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  47. Kaye, K., & Fogel, A. (1980). The temporal structure of face-to-face communication between mothers and infants. Developmental Psychology, 16, 454–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kelso, J. A. S., & Tuller, B. (1984). A dynamical basis for action systems. In M. S. Gazzaniga (Ed.), Handbook of cognitive neuroscience, (pp. 321–356 ). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  49. Kelso, J. A. S., Tuller, B., Bateson, E. V., & Fowler, C. A. (1984). Functionally specific articulatory cooperation adaptation to jaw perturbations during speech: Evidence for coordinative structures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 10, 812–832.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kelso, J. A. S., Holt, K. G., Kugler, P. N., & Turvey, M. T. (1980). On the concept of coordinative structures as dissipative structures: II. Empirical lines of convergence. In G. E. Stelmach & J. Requin (Eds.), Tutorials in motor behavior, (pp. 49–70 ). New York: North-HollandCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kelso, J. A. S., Southard, D. I., & Goodman, D. (1979). On the nature of human interlimb coordination. Science, 203, 1029–1031.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kent, R. D. (1981). Articulatory-acoustic perspective on speech development. In R. Stark (Ed.), Language development in infancy and early childhood, (pp. 105–126 ). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  53. Kessen, W., Haith, M., & Salapatek, P. (1970). Infancy. In P. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s manual of child psychology, ( 3rd ed., pp. 287–445 ). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  54. Kienapple, K. G. P. (1983). From recognition to categorization; The development of conceptual knowledge in 7- and 10-month-old infants. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Purdue University.Google Scholar
  55. Kitchener, R. F. (1982). Holism and the organismic model in developmental psychgology. Human Development, 25, 233–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Konner, M. (1977). Maternal care, infant behavior and development among the Kalahari Desert San. In R. B. Lee & I. DeVore (Eds.), Kalahari hunter gatherers, (pp. 218–245 ). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Kugler, P. N., Kelso, J. A. S., & Turvey, M. T. (1980). On the concept of coordinative structures as dissipative structures. I. Theoretical lines of convergence. In G. E. Stelmach & J. Requin (Eds.), Tutorials in motor behavior, (pp. 3–47 ). New York; North-Holland.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Kugler, P., Kelso, J. A. S., & Turvey, M. T. (1982). On the control and co-ordination of naturally developing systems. In J. A. S. Kelso & J. E. Clark (Eds.), The development of movement control and co-ordination, (pp. 5–78 ). New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  59. Lempert, H., & Kinsbourne, M. (1985). Possible origin of speech in selective orienting. Psychological Bulletin, 97, 62–73.Google Scholar
  60. Leung, E., & Rheingold, H. (1981). The development of pointing as a social gesture. Developmental Psychology, 17, 215–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Lindblom, B., & Sundberg, J. (1969). A quantitative model of vowel production and the distinctive features of Swedish vowels. Quarterly Progress Status Report, Speech Transmission Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, ( Stockholm, Sweden ), 1, 14–32.Google Scholar
  62. Masur, E. F. (1983). Gestural development, dual directional signalling, and the transition to words. Journal of Psycho-linguistic Research, 12, 93–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. McGraw, M. B. (1932). From reflex to muscular control in the assumption of an erect posture and ambulation in the human infant. Child Development, 3, 291–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. McGraw, M. B. (1940). Neuromuscular development of the human infant as exemplified in the achievement of erect locomotion. Journal of Pediatrics, 17, 747–771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. McMahon, T. A. (1984). Muscles, reflexes, and locomotion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  66. Murphy, C. M., & Messer, D. J. (1977). Mothers, infants, and pointing; A study of gesture. In H. R. Schaffer (Ed.), Studies in mother-infant interaction, (pp. 325–354 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  67. Nashner, L. M. (1981). Analysis of stance posture in humans. In A. L. Towe & E. S. Luschei (Eds.), Handbook of behavioral neurobiology, Vol. 5: Motor coordination, (pp. 527–565 ). New York; Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Netsell, R. (1981). The acquisition of speech motor control. In R. Stark (Ed.), Language behavior in infancy and early childhood, (pp. 127–156 ). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  69. Oster, H. (1978). Facial expression and affect development. In M. Lewis & L. A. Rosenblum (Eds.), The development of affect, (pp. 43–75 ). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  70. Overton, W., Reese, H. (1973). Models of development: Methodological implications. In J. Nesselroade & H. Reese (Eds.), Life-span developmental psychology: Methodological Issues, (pp. 65–86 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  71. Pearson, K. G., & Duysens, J. (1976). Function of segmental reflexes in the control of stepping in cockroaches and cats. In R. M. Herman, S. Grillner, P. S. G. Stein, & D. G. Stuart (Eds.), Neural control of locomotion, (pp. 519–537 ). New York; Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  72. Peiper, A. (1963). Cerebral function in infancy and childhood. New York: Consultants Bureau.Google Scholar
  73. Piaget, J. (1971). Biology and knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  74. Platzman, K. (1983). The ontogeny of pointing in the first ten months of life. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  75. Prechtl, H. F. R. (1974). The behavioural states of the newborn infant (a review). Brain Research, 76, 185–212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Prigogine, I. (1980). From being to becoming. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.Google Scholar
  77. Ramsay, D. S. (1984). Onset of duplicated syllable babbling and unimanual handedness in infancy: Evidence for developmental change in hemispheric specialization? Developmental Psychology, 20, 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Reed, E. S. (1982). An outline of a theory of action systems. Journal of Motor Behavior, 14, 98–134.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  79. Reese, H. W., & Overton, W. F. (1970). Models of development and theories of development. In L. R. Goulet & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), Life-span development psychology: Research and theory, (pp. 115–145 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  80. Rosen, R. (1978). Fundamentals of measurement and representation of natural systems. New York: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  81. Ruff, H. (1984). Infants’ manipulative exploration of objects: Effects of age and object characteristics. Developmental Psychology, 20, 9–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sameroff, A. J. (1983). Developmental systems: Contexts and evolution. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology. History, theory, and methods, (4th ed., Vol. I, pp. 237294 ). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  83. Schmidt, R. A. (1982). Motor control and learning: A behavioral emphasis. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.Google Scholar
  84. Shapiro, D. C., & Schmidt, R. A. (1982). The schema theory: Recent evidence and developmental implications. In J. A. S. Kelso and J. E. Clark (Eds.), The development of movement control and co-ordination, (pp. 113–150 ). New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  85. Shapiro, D. C., Zernicke, R. F., Gregor, R. J., & Diestel, J. D. (1981). Evidence for generalized motor program using gait pattern analysis. Journal of Motor Behavior, 13, 33–47.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  86. Shik, M. L., & Orlovsky, G. N. (1976). Neurophysiology of locomotor automatism. Physiological Reviews, 56, 465–501.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  87. Soll, D. R. (1979). Timers in developing systems. Science, 203, 841–849.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Sroufe, L. A. (1979). Socioemotional development. In J. Osofsky (Ed.), Handbook of infant development, (pp. 462–518 ). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  89. Statham, L., & Murray, M. P. (1971). Early walking patterns of normal children. Clinical Orthopaedics, 79, 8–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Super, C. M. (1980). Behavioral development in infancy. In R. H. Monroe, R. L. Monroe, & B. B. Whiting (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural human development, (pp. 181–270 ). New York: Garland STPM.Google Scholar
  91. Sutherland, D. H., Olshen, R., Cooper, L., & Woo, S. L.-Y. (1980). The development of mature gait. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 62, 336–353.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  92. Thelen, E. (1979). Rhythmical stereotypies in normal human infants. Animal Behaviour, 27, 699–715.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Thelen, E. (1981a). Kicking, rocking, and waving: Contextual analysis of rhythmical stereotypies in normal human infants. Animal Behaviour, 29, 3–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Thelen, E. (1981b). Rhythmical behavior in infancy: An ethological perspective. Developmental Psychology, 17, 237–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Thelen, E. (1985). Developmental origins of motor coordination: leg movements in human infants. Developmental Psychology, 18, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Thelen, E. (1986). Treadmill-elicited stepping in seven-month-old infants. Child Development, 57, 1498–1506.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Thelen, E., & Fisher, D. M. (1982). Newborn stepping: An explanation for a “disappearing reflex.” Developmental Psychology, 18, 760–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Thelen, E., & Fisher, D. M. (1983a). From spontaneous to instrumental behavior: Kinematic analysis of movement changes during very early learning. Child Development, 54, 129–140.Google Scholar
  99. Thelen, E., & Fisher, D. M. (1983b). The organization of spontaneous leg movements in newborn infants. Journal of Motor Behavior, 15, 353–377.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  100. Thelen, E., Bradshaw, G., & Ward, J. A. (1981). Spontaneous kicking in month-old infants: manifestations of a human central locomotor program. Behavioral and Neural Biology, 32, 45–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Thelen, E., Ridley-Johnson, R., & Fisher, D. M. (1983). Shifting patterns of bilateral coordination and lateral dominance in the leg movements of young infants. Developmental Psychobiology, 16, 29–46.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Thelen, E., Fisher, D. M., & Ridley-Johnson, R. (1984). The relationship between physical growth and a newborn reflex. Infant Behavior and Development, 7, 479–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Thelen, E., Kelso, J. A. S., and Fogel, A. (1986). Self-organizing systems and infant motor development. Developmental Review, 7, 39–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Thelen, E., Skala, K., & Kelso, J. A. S. (1987). The dynamic nature of early coordination: Evidence from bilateral leg movements in young infants. Developmental Psychology, 23, 179–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Trevarthen, C. (1977). Descriptive analyses of infant communication behaviour. In H. R. Schaffer (Ed.), Studies in mother-infant interaction, (pp. 227–270 ). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  106. Trevarthen, C. (1979). Communication and cooperation in primary inter-subjectivity. In M. Bullowa (Ed.), Before speech, (pp. 321–348 ). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  107. Tuller, B., Turvey, M. T., & Fitch, H. (1982). The Bernstein perspective. II. The concept of muscle linkage or coordinative structure. In J. A. S. Kelso (Ed.), Human motor behavior: An Introduction, (pp. 252–270 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  108. Turvey, M. T. (1977). Preliminaries to a theory of action with a reference to vision. In R. Shaw & J. Bransford (Eds.), Perceiving, acting, and knowing: Toward an ecological psychology, (pp. 211–265 ). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  109. Waddington, C. H. (1966). Principles of development and differentiation. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  110. Wapner, S., & Kaplan, B. (1983). Toward a holistic developmental psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  111. Webster, G., & Goodwin, B. (1981). History and structure in biology. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 25, 39–62.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  112. Werner, H. (1957). The concept of development from a comparative and organismic point of view. In D. B. Harris (Ed.). The concept of development, (pp. 125–148 ). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  113. Werner, J. (1977). Mathematical treatment of structure and function of human thermoregulatory system. Biology Cybernetics, 25, 93–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  114. Whiting, H. T. A. (1984). Human motor actions: Bernstein reassessed. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  115. Winfree, A. T. (1980). The geometry of biological time. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  116. Wolff, P. H. (1967). The role of biological rhythms in early psychological development. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 31, 197–218.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  117. Zelazo, P. R. (1983). The development of walking: New findings and old assumptions. Journal of Motor Behavior, 15, 99–137.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  118. Zelazo, P. R., Zelazo, N. A., & Kolb, S. (1972). “Walking” in the newborn. Science, 177, 1058–1059.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  119. Zeskind, P. S., & Lester, B. M. (1978). Acoustic features of auditory perceptions of the cries of newborns with prenatal and perinatal complications. Child Development, 49, 580–589.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Esther Thelen
    • 1
  • Alan Fogel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations