Walking infants adapt locomotion to changing body dimensions

Karen E. Adolph, Anthony M. Avolio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infants acquire independent mobility amidst a flux of body growth. Changes in body dimensions and variations in the ground change the physical constraints on keeping balance. The study examined whether toddlers can adapt to changes in their body dimensions and variations in the terrain by loading them with lead weights and observing how they navigated safe and risky slopes. Experiment 1 verified the reliability of a new psychophysical procedure for testing infants' responses in 2 experimental conditions. In Experiment 2, this procedure was used to compare infants' responses on slopes in feather-weight and lead-weight conditions. The lead weights impaired infants' ability to walk down slopes. Babies adapted to altered body dimensions by treating the same degree of slope as safe in the feather-weight condition but as risky in the lead-weight condition. Exploratory activity on the starting platform predicted adaptive responses on risky slopes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1166
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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