Our studies of postural development in young infants ask the question, "What is developing when infants progress from sitting to standing and finally to walking independently?" 

The sequence of motor skills that infants learn in the first year is well known.  But, what is less well understood is how and why these motor skills appear and change as they do. 

In a series of studies, we examine the relationship between perception and action as infants develop the ability to stand upright independently and eventually walk "hands free".

  • First, we study infant's postural development longitudinally from the onset of sitting (approximately 4-5 months of age) until nine months of independent walking experience (approximately 20-24 months of age). 
  • Second, we focus on the role somatosensation plays in postural control.  That is, we use the infant's natural inclination to touch stable contact surfaces (such as their parent or a coffee table) as a "window" into the use of somatosensory information for upright postural control. 
  • And third, we measure and analyze the relationship between somatosensory input and the infant's postural responses.  We can do this with a specially instrumented contact surface (a bar) that allows us to measure applied forces (through 3 dimensional force transducers) as well as to move the bar gently (using a servo-motor system with precise control over frequency and velocity of movement) as the infant is touching it.

Are you interested in participating with your infant?

Criteria for participation:

  • Infant was born at full term and has no known developmental delay
  • Willingness to come to the University of Maryland, College Park, Cognitive-Motor Behavior Laboratory at least once a month until the infant has been walking independently for nine months

Benefits to participants:

  • small financial payment for each testing session
  • knowledge of your infant's progress in the development of fundamental motor skills
  • taking part in the advancement of our understanding of how motor skills develop