Change occurs when body meets environment: A review of the embodied nature of development: Embodied nature of development

Shin Maruyama, Evelina Dineva, John P. Spencer, Gregor Schöner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to outline the challenges of psychological research in addressing the mechanisms of emergence: how new behavioral patterns and cognitive abilities arise from the interaction of an organism with its environment in real time. We review some of the empirical studies on infant development with reference to Dynamical Systems accounts and relevant views such as the ecological approach to perception and action, and cover topics ranging from early motor skills to goal-directed locomotion and to higher cognitive development. The central claim is that the results of these studies are essentially related: they suggest that there is a fundamental connection among perception, motor behavior, and cognition. In addition, we recount our attempt to re-enact the situatedness and temporal structure of the decision-making processes of human infants by using an autonomous robotic device. We conclude by highlighting several insights from the broad spectrum of studies looking into the embodied nature of adaptive behavior. In our view, such studies are making a profound contribution to uncovering the emergent mechanisms of intellectual and bodily activity throughout development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-401
Number of pages17
JournalJapanese Psychological Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • development
  • embodiment
  • Dynamical Systems approach
  • perception and action
  • ecological approach

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