This study investigated whether 5- to 11-year-old children perceive affordances in the same way as adults (M age = 22.93, SD = 2.16) when presented with a task and four tools (nail in a block of wood and a hammer, rock, wrench, and comb; bucket of sand and a shovel, wooden block, rake, and tweezers; and a screw in a block of wood and a screwdriver, knife, dime, and crayon). Participants were asked to select the best tool and act on an object until all four assigned tools had been selected. No explicit instructions were provided because we were interested in how task perception would influence tool selection and action. Results support the notion that the capacity to perceive affordances increases with age. Furthermore, differences in the way in which 5-year-olds acted on the screw in a block of wood demonstrated that the ability to detect some affordances takes longer to refine. Findings help to further the understanding of the development of perception-action coupling.
Sara M. Scharoun, Pamela J. Bryden, Michael E. Cinelli, David A. Gonzalez, and Eric A. Roy
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.