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Infant Behavior & Development 25 (2002) 8690 Babies' steps make giant strides toward

Summary: Infant Behavior & Development 25 (2002) 8690
Babies' steps make giant strides toward
a science of development
Karen E. Adolph
Department of Psychology, New York University, 6 Washington Place, Room 401, New York, NY 10003, USA
Received 11 February 2002; accepted 11 February 2002
Why might a paper on infants' leg movements be one of the most widely cited papers
in a general journal on infancy? Thelen et al.'s article (1984) (re-published in this issue)
and her related work settled a long-standing argument about the fate of a newborn reflex.
The implications of this work, however, extend far beyond the scope of infant stepping. It
changed the way researchers think about motor development and came to represent a new
theory of general developmental processes. Most important, Thelen's strategy of using a highly
specialized paradigm as a model system for understanding general developmental processes
promises to pave the way for a real science of development.
Babies' first steps have always been a compelling phenomenon in developmental
psychology. Perhaps because walking is such a fundamental skill for human functioning,
so pervasive across individuals and cultures, so accessible to the untrained eye, and its de-
velopment so seemingly transparent to our common sense intuitions, the image of an infant
toddling across the floor makes an especially powerful paradigm for understanding the process


Source: Adolph, Karen - Center for Neural Science & Department of Psychology, New York University


Collections: Biology and Medicine