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Sara M. Scharoun, David A. Gonzalez, Eric A. Roy, and Pamela J. Bryden

Young adults plan actions in advance to minimize the cost of movement. This is exemplified by the end-state comfort (ESC) effect. A pattern of improvement in ESC in children is linked to the development of cognitive control processes, and decline in older adults is attributed to cognitive decline. This study used a cross-sectional design to examine how movement context (pantomime, demonstration with image/glass as a guide, actual grasping) influences between-hand differences in ESC planning. Children (5- to 12-year-olds), young adults, and two groups of older adults (aged 60–70, and aged 71 and older) were assessed. Findings provide evidence for adult-like patterns of ESC in 8-year-olds. Results are attributed to improvements in proprioceptive acuity and proficiency in generating and implementing internal representations of action. For older adults early in the aging process, sensitivity to ESC did not differ from young adults. However, with increasing age, differences reflect challenges in motor planning with increases in cognitive demand, similar to previous work. Findings have implications for understanding lifespan motor behavior.