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The philosophy of cognitive science reading group will host Karen Adolph for a virtual talk on her 2019 paper, Motor development: Embodied, embedded, enculturated, and enabling, co-authored with Justine Hoch. Individuals interested in attending the talk need not participate in the reading group, but will need to register to receive a link to the Zoom webinar.


Learn more about the philosophy of cognitive science reading group.


Motor development and psychological development are fundamentally related, but researchers typically consider them separately. In this review, we present four key features of infant motor development and show that motor skill acquisition both requires and reflects basic psychological functions. ( a) Motor development is embodied: Opportunities for action depend on the current status of the body. ( b) Motor development is embedded: Variations in the environment create and constrain possibilities for action. ( c) Motor development is enculturated: Social and cultural influences shape motor behaviors. ( d) Motor development is enabling: New motor skills create new opportunities for exploration and learning that instigate cascades of development across diverse psychological domains. For each of these key features, we show that changes in infants’ bodies, environments, and experiences entail behavioral flexibility and are thus essential to psychology. Moreover, we suggest that motor development is an ideal model system for the study of psychological development.

Adolph KE, Hoch JE. Motor Development: Embodied, Embedded, Enculturated, and Enabling. Annu Rev Psychol. 2019 Jan 4;70:141-164. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-102836. Epub 2018 Sep 26. PMID: 30256718; PMCID: PMC6320716.


Karen Adolph

Karen Adolph is a Julius Silver Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at New York University. She has research interests in infant motor development, including posture & locomotion, manual action, and natural behavior. She is the principal investigator of the Infant Action Lab.

Learn more about her research here.

Image credit: Child getting brown stones from white container at home by Tatiana Syrikova

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