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Locomotor Experience Influences the Spatial Cognitive Development of Infants with Spina Bifida

Summary:
This study tested the hypothesis, derived from studies of normal infants, that experience with self-produced locomotion facilitates the development of two important spatial cognitive skills: a two-position object permanence manual search task, and a task assessing the infant's following of the point/gaze gesture of the experimenter. Both of these tasks, as assessed in these studies, show median ages of onset between 7 and 9 months in normal infants, but very recent studies with normals have shown that, within this age group, locomotor experience, rather than age, forecasts the development of these skills. The specific question tested in this study concerned whether infants who were delayed in locomotor development due to meningomyelocele were also delayed in spatial skills until after the age at which locomotion was attained. The hypothesis was confirmed with both tasks.

Key words: object permanence, joint visual attention, spina bifida, crawling experience, longitudinal study, meningomyelocele

 

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