Development of proximal arm muscle control during reaching in young infants: from variation to selection

Hanneke Bakker, Victorine B. de Graaf-Peters, Leo A van Eykern, Bert Otten, Mijna Hadders-Algra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


UNLABELLED: Reaching movements are initiated by activity of the prime mover, i.e. the first activated arm muscle. We aimed to investigate the relationship between prime mover activity and kinematics of reaching in typically developing (TD) infants in supine and sitting position. Fourteen infants were assessed at 4 and 6 months during reaching in supine and supported sitting. Kinematics and EMG-activity of deltoid, pectoralis major, biceps (BB) and triceps brachii were recorded. Kinematic analysis focused on number of movement units (MUs) and transport MU (MU with longest duration). Prime mover use was variable, but at 6 months a dominance of BB emerged in both testing conditions. Kinematics were also variable, but with increasing age the number of MU decreased and the relative proportion of the transport MU increased. BB as prime mover at 6 months was related to a larger transport MU.

CONCLUSION: Between 4 and 6 months BB prime mover dominance emerges which is related to relatively efficient reaching characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
JournalInfant behavior & development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010


  • physiology
  • child development
  • electromyography
  • motor activity
  • muscles


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