Children's use of visual information in action planning



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The primary intent of this study was to gain insight into children's ability to use visual information in planning reaching movements. More specifically, the work presented here examined, from a developmental perspective, the use of visual information to use a) egocentric cues, b) allocentric cues, and c) the combination, in the form of visual background around a target. Children representing the age groups 5-, 7-, 9-, 11 years and adults participated in three experiments. All experiments were conducted using an immediate (visually-guided) and response-delay (memory-guided) paradigm. Experiment 1 examined the ability of participants to use an egocentric frame of reference to estimate reach via motor imagery. Results indicated that introducing a >? 2s delay affected responses in all age groups, especially the younger age groups (5- and 7-year-olds). As delay increased, children as a group tended to overestimate, while adults underestimated. Experiment 2 investigated how participants used allocentric cues to estimate the location of objects in a perceptual estimate paradigm. Results revealed that introducing a delay affected the estimation of distance among all age groups, with greater effect on the younger age groups. Experiment 3 examined how a visual background surrounding a target would affect estimation of reach. Results revealed that there were no differences when targets were surrounded with or without a background. Results also showed that the 5- and 7-year-olds were most affected on their perception of reach and estimates by longer delays. Considered together, these results hint that: (1) there is a significant temporal constraint on the representation of movement through the visoumotor stream, especially with children 7 years and younger, and (2) children as a whole tend to operate and rely more on an egocentric frame of reference; therefore, responses of reachability and distance estimates were susceptible to greater error when performed after a 2s delay.