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Bridging the Gap: Solving Spatial Means–Ends Relations in a Locomotor Task


  • This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R37-HD33486 to Karen E. Adolph and a CUNY Faculty Development Program Grant to Sarah E. Berger. Portions of this research were presented at the biennial meeting of the Cognitive Development Society, Park City, Utah, October 2003 and the International Conference on Infant Studies, Vancouver, British Columbia, March 2008. We gratefully acknowledge the members of the New York University Action Lab for their assistance with data collections and all of the infants and caregivers who participated in this research.

concerning this article should be addressed to Sarah E. Berger, Department of Psychology, College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York, 2800 Victory Boulevard, 4S-108, Staten Island, NY 10314. Electronic mail may be sent to


Using a means–means–ends problem-solving task, this study examined whether 16-month-old walking infants (N = 28) took into account the width of a bridge as a means for crossing a precipice and the location of a handrail as a means for augmenting balance on a narrow bridge. Infants were encouraged to cross from one platform to another over narrow and wide bridges located at various distances from a wooden handrail. Infants attempted to walk over the wide bridge more often than the narrow one and when the handrail was within reach. Infants demonstrated parallel problem solving by modifying exploratory behaviors and bridge-crossing strategies that simultaneously accounted for the spatial and functional relations between body and bridge, body and handrail, and bridge and handrail.

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