Perception-action cycles and exploratory learning

Within a Perception-Action framework, infants learn task-specific action through a discovery learning process in which they demonstrate a wide range of exploratory actions to generate information about possible outcomes of actions, then exploit actions which result in outcomes with adaptive value. Sagent et al 2014

Through repeated opportunities to explore movement consequences, infants discover and select movements that are most successful to the task-at-hand. This study further demonstrates that distinct sensory-motor experiences can have a significant impact on developmental trajectories and can influence the skills young infants will discover through their interactions with their surroundings. Williams 2016

"Adolph and colleagues have conducted a series of studies in which infants were exposed to variable and novel challenges of balance and locomotion, such as descending slopes, spanning gaps, and crossing bridges [25]. Overall, they found that when infants first acquired a new posture, such as walking, they did not take into account the limits of their abilities relative to risky environmental features, for example they would attempt to walk down steep slopes [26]. Over weeks of walking experience, their responses became more adaptive and they would attempt safe slopes and refuse steep slopes. In fact, infants with walking experience could even respond adaptively to the novel experience of descending a slope wearing either a lead-weighted or feather-weighted shoulder pack. Experienced walkers demonstrated that they generalized their knowledge of slopes by immediately walking down relatively steep slopes with the feather-weighted shoulder packs, but refusing to walk down the same slope with the heavier, lead-weighted shoulder packs [27]. This demonstrates that they were able to generalize their knowledge of walking down slopes to a novel task utilizing shoulder packs of varying weight. They had “learned to learn.” Abstract from Sargent et al 2014

Sargent, B., Schweighofer, N., Kubo, M., & Fetters, L. (2014). Infant Exploratory Learning: Influence on Leg Joint Coordination. PLoS ONE, 9(3), e91500. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0091500

Williams, J. L., & Corbetta, D. (2016). Assessing the Impact of Movement Consequences on the Development of Early Reaching in Infancy. Frontiers in Psychology7, 587. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00587