Sticky Mittens Early Motor Intervention Affects Infants' Object Preferences
Wiesen, Sarah Elizabeth
Infants’ object preferences determine their learning opportunities. We investigated how infants’ visual preferences are influenced by their current motor abilities. Past research shows that very young infants prefer to look toward larger objects that take up a greater portion of their visual fields (Salapatek, 1968; Slater, Mattock, & Brown, 1990; Bruner & Koslowski, 1972). Recent findings indicate that as older infants gain experience reaching for and grasping objects, they begin to preferentially look toward and reach for smaller objects that are easier for them to manipulate (Newman, Atkinson, Braddick, 2001; Libertus, Gibson, Hidayatallah, Hirtle, Adcock, & Needham, 2013). In the current study, pre-reaching infants participated in an 8-minute early motor intervention involving infant mittens. Infants in the active mittens training condition wore custom mittens with the palms covered in Velcro, which enabled them to pick up and move small toys covered in the matching side of Velcro through their visual fields. Infants who had this active mittens training experience showed increased visual exploration of a small cylinder compared to a large cylinder from pre- to post-training. In contrast, infants in the passive mittens training condition, who wore mittens without Velcro on the palms and watched as an experimenter moved the toys through their visual fields, looked more toward the large cylinder after training. These findings show that infants’ visual preferences are quickly adjusted to account for changes in their motor abilities. Infants appeared to gain sensitivity to the graspability of objects as a result of sticky mittens training.