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Manual exploration and haptic perception in infants

(from the chapter) Interest in the very young infant's haptic modality has grown considerably over the last twenty years. The haptic modality is very primitive--since it is the first modality to be put into practice--and at the same time very original in its ways of working. It has generated a lot of studies into babies, which currently permit a better understanding of its beginnings. A long time before taking an interest in infants' exploratory activity, researchers started by evaluating the organism's reactivity level. They also limited early forms of oral and manual capture to reflex. It is henceforth widely accepted that haptic perception results from an intimate coupling of motricity and sensitivity. Haptic perception, in the context of exploration, is intimately linked to action. The study of the haptic system, considered in isolation, allows us to answer the question as to the capacities and the means that infant develops to apprehend the environment. This study is generally confined to the first five months of an infant's life. After the age of five months, the emergence of visual/prehensile coordination breaks off these first forms of interaction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)