The effects of social interaction on the kinematics of a reaching movement in children


Specific kinematic patterns have been observed for adults when socially interacting in cooperative and competitive reaching tasks. Cooperative reaching tasks show longer movement times, decreased amplitude of peak velocity and a decreased maximum grip aperture compared to competitive reaching tasks. However, it is unknown when differences in the kinematic patterns emerge in children. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of social interaction on the kinematics of a reaching movement in children. To date, right-handed participants between the ages of three and 13 (N = 16, 8 female), were tested. The task required the participant to move a block from a starting position located on desk in front of their right hand to the target location in the centre of the desk. The task was completed under four different conditions; 1) at a normal pace, 2) as fast as possible, 3) competitively against a confederate, and 4) cooperatively with a confederate. The confederate was a young adult female. Kinematic data (movement time, maximum grip aperture, resultant peak velocity) were recorded for each trial. Preliminary results showed that children had a significantly slower movement time, and a significant decrease in resultant peak velocity when completing the task in a cooperative setting compared to a competitive setting. Overall, these results support the hypothesis in showing that children, similar to adults, differ in their kinematic patterns depending of whether they are interacting cooperatively or competitively. Future directions aim to compare cross-sectionally children's performance as a function of age.

Acknowledgments: NSERC, FOSSA