Functional consequences of independent locomotion in toddlers

Christine Assaiante

From birth, one essential aspect of sensorimotor development is to allow communication between infant and his environment. In order to perceive and act in its environment, the baby and its interactions with the physical and social environment are represented in the brain, thanks to a functional link between the sensory representations activated during the perception of an action and the motor representations used during the planning of the action. This early and robust perception-action coupling is the foundation of internal representationof action to improve action execution, action understanding and social interactions. First, I will present some famous examples of early perception-action coupling, related to motor acquisitions during the first year. Second, I will focus on the acquisition of independent bipedal locomotion and its functional consequences, such as ability to anticipate predictable external perturbations. Taken together, these results provide evidence that the acquisition of independent walking plays a key role in the development of predictive control, likely improving the internal representation of action.

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