Infants Born Preterm Demonstrate Reduced Task-Specific Exploration During the Scaffolded Kick-Activated Mobile Task

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Jeong Ah Kim Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Sungwoo Park Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Linda Fetters Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Sandrah P. Eckel Division of Biostatistics, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Masayoshi Kubo Department of Physical Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Niigata University of Health and Welfare, Niigata, Japan

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Barbara Sargent Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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This study quantified the spatial exploration of 13 infants born very and extremely preterm (PT) at 4 months corrected age as they learned that moving their feet vertically to cross a virtual threshold activated an infant kick-activated mobile and compared results to 15 infants born full-term (FT) from a previously published study. Spatial exploration was quantified using two general spatial exploration variables (exploration volume and exploration path), two task-specific spatial variables (duration of time in the task-specific region of interest and vertical variance of kicks), and one non-task-specific spatial variable (horizontal variance of kicks). The infants born PT, similar to FT, increased their general spatial exploration and duration in the region of interest and did not change the vertical and horizontal variances of kicks. However, the infants born PT, compared to FT, spent less time in the task-specific region of interest and had a greater non-task-specific horizontal variance throughout the task. This may indicate that infants born PT and FT exhibit similar general spatial exploration, but infants born PT exhibit less task-specific spatial exploration. Future research is necessary to determine the contribution of learning and motor abilities to the differences in task-specific exploration between infants born PT and FT.

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