Prospective control

Prospective motor control, a key element of action planning, is the ability to adjust one's actions with respect to task demands and action goals in an anticipatory manner. (Gottwald et al 2017).


von Hofsten C. An action perspective on motor development. Trends Cogn Sci. 2004 Jun;8(6):266-72. Review. PubMed PMID: 15165552.  PDF

Motor development has all too often been considered as a set of milestones with little significance for the psychology of the child. Nothing could be more wrong. From an action perspective, motor development is at the heart of development and reflects all its different aspects, including perception, planning and motivation. Recent converging evidence demonstrates that, from birth onwards, children are agents who act on the world. Even in the newborn child, their movements are never just reflexes. On the contrary, they are purposeful goal-directed actions that foresee events in the world. Thus, motor development is not just a question of gaining control over muscles; equally important are questions such as why a particular movement is made, how the movements are planned, and how they anticipate what is going to happen next.  PDF 


Gottwald JM, De Bortoli Vizioli A, Lindskog M, Nyström P, L Ekberg T, von Hofsten C, Gredebäck G. Infants prospectively control reaching based on the difficulty of future actions: To what extent can infants' multiple-step actions be explained by Fitts' law? Dev Psychol. 2017 Jan;53(1):4-12. doi: 10.1037/dev0000212. PubMed PMID: 28026189.

Prospective motor control, a key element of action planning, is the ability to adjust one's actions with respect to task demands and action goals in an anticipatory manner. The current study investigates whether 14-month-olds can prospectively control their reaching actions based on the difficulty of the subsequent action. We used a reach-to-place task, with difficulty of the placing action varied by goal size and goal distance. To target prospective motor control, we determined the kinematics of the prior reaching movements using a motion-tracking system. Peak velocity of the first movement unit of the reach served as indicator for prospective motor control. Both difficulty aspects (goal size and goal distance) affected prior reaching, suggesting that both these aspects of the subsequent action have an impact on the prior action. The smaller the goal size and the longer the distance to the goal, the slower infants were in the beginning of their reach toward the object. Additionally, we modeled movement times of both reaching and placing actions using a formulation of Fitts' law (as in heading). The model was significant for placement and reaching movement times. These findings suggest that 14-month-olds can plan their future actions and prospectively control their related movements with respect to future task difficulties. (PsycINFO Database Record