An update of the development of motor behavior

John M. Franchak, Karen E. Adolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This primer describes research on the development of motor behavior. We focus on infancy when basic action systems are acquired—posture, locomotion, manual actions, and facial actions—and we adopt a developmental systems perspective to understand the causes and consequences of developmental change. Experience facilitates improvements in motor behavior and infants accumulate immense amounts of varied everyday experience with all the basic action systems. At every point in development, perception guides behavior by providing feedback about the results of just prior movements and information about what to do next. Across development, new motor behaviors provide new inputs for perception. Thus, motor development opens up new opportunities for acquiring knowledge and acting on the world, instigating cascades of developmental changes in perceptual, cognitive, and social domains. This article is categorized under: Cognitive Biology > Cognitive Development Psychology > Motor Skill and Performance Neuroscience > Development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • development
  • infancy
  • motor
  • movement
  • psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Psychology


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