Congratulations to Ran Xiao, assistant professor, who has received an award for his subcontract on a University of Southern California proposal to the NIH program entitled “Emergence of Arm Reaching Behavior and Lateralization of Motor Control in Infancy." This project was funded for a five-year period with a start date of December 1, 2020.
It is crucial to understand how infants learn to progress from spontaneous movements into goal-directed, refined motor skills. Infant learning is the focus of early intervention programs, and the need for effective early intervention is great. Until we understand the mechanisms of development and what promotes or inhibits successful infant learning, we cannot design optimal early intervention. Our specific objective is to longitudinally study infant experience (infant and environmental factors) and underlying neural substrates (electroencephalography (EEG)) as infants learn arm reaching, an early, foundational motor skill.
Our Aim 1 will measure error rate longitudinally across the emergence and refinement of reaching. In Aim 1 we will determine the relationship between error rate and the development of reaching skill. Aim 2 will focus on individual infant and environmental factors that predict age of onset of reaching. Aim 3 will use EEG to determine how brain function changes as reaching is refined from an unstable skill to a successful, lateralized (typically right arm preference) movement. Our results will determine the most relevant factors related to an infant’s ability to refine his brain function and neuromotor control as he learns to reach.