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Grasping and fingering (active or haptic touch) in healthy newborns.

By Elvidina N. Adamson-Macedo and Christopher Barnes


The traditional view that the activity of the baby's hands are triggered by a stimulus in an automatic, compulsory, stereotyped way and persisting view that fingering does not occur prior to 4 months of age, have led perception researchers to the assumption that the processing, encoding, and retainment of sensory information could not take place through the manual mode. This study aims to investigate whether fingering and different types of grasping occur before 3 months of age and can be modulated by surface texture of three objects. Using naturalistic observations, this small sample developmental study applied the AB experimental design to achieve aims above. Babies were video taped every week for 12 weeks. Three special manual stimuli were developed for this study.Focal sampling method with either zero-sampling or instantaneous sampling recording rules were used to analyse data with the Observer Video Pro. Each session comprising baseline and 3 experimental conditions lasted for four minutes. Fingering or 'proto fingering' as it is suggested in this article emerges as early as the first week of postnatal life; texture of a handled object modulates both 'proto-palm' and hand-grasp behaviour of healthy newborns. Results suggest that texture also modulates 'proto-fingering' and challenge persisting current assumption that fingering does not occur before four months of age, and further validates the phrase 'neo-haptic' touch to describe hands-on exploration of the newborn. The author suggests that some 'mental representation' of the stimulus is present during 'neo-haptic' recognition of the objects which is in accordance to a constructivist approach to (touch) perception

Topics: Newborns, Grasping, Fingering, Neonatology, Motor Activity
Publisher: Society of Integrated Sciences
Year: 2004
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