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Claudia Kubicek and Gudrun Schwarzer

From birth, infants encounter an environment full of objects and learn rapidly about their spatial characteristics. According to Newcombe, Uttal, and Sauter (2013), spatial development includes (1) the development of intraobject representations with the ability to transform them by mental rotation, and (2) the development of interobject representations with the ability to find and predict certain object locations. Infants’ remarkable improvements of these two strands of spatial object processing raise the major question of which factors may drive them. In this article, we discuss the extent to which infants’ development of intra- and interobject representations is related to their emerging motor skills. In particular, we provide a review on how far infants’ development of mental object rotation ability and their ability to localize objects are related to their manual object exploration and locomotion skills. We document a bulk of evidence suggesting such a link between infants’ motor development and their spatial object processing and also discuss and critically reconsider the implications of these studies.

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Julia Dillmann, Christian-Dominik Peterlein and Gudrun Schwarzer

It was the aim of this study to examine the motor and cognitive development of infants with congenital idiopathic clubfoot, compared with typically developing infants. We repeatedly tested the gross motor, fine motor, and cognitive abilities of 12 infants with clubfoot and 12 typically developing infants at the ages of 4, 6, 9, and 12 months with the Bayley-III Scales. All infants with clubfoot were treated with the Ponseti method, which led to a restriction of normal movements of the lower extremities in the first months of life. They showed a great delay in gross motor development but not in fine motor or cognitive development. However, in the clubfoot group, we found some slight deficits in specific cognitive tasks, including problem solving and spatial memory. In addition, our results revealed significant correlations between gross and fine motor performance and cognitive performance in the control group but only between fine motor and cognitive performance in infants with clubfoot, indicating that both, fine and gross motor skills, are related to cognitive processes and can mutually replace each other to a certain degree. Further research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of clubfoot infants’ development and to clarify the need for mobility training.

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Gudrun Schwarzer, Bianca Jovanovic, Claudia Kubicek and Mathias Hegele