UPBEAT - UPper Limb Baby Early Action-observation Training
Chief investigators: Andrea Guzzetta (Pisa), Valentina Burzi (Pisa), Roslyn Boyd (Australia), Kerry Provan (Australia)
Investigators from the SMILE Lab: Gessica Tealdi, Viviana Marchi, Francesca Colombini
The best way to learn a new motor skill, is to look at people who can already do it. But is this also true for
infants? And, can we help infants with motor problems by teaching them how to do it? This research aims to
answer these questions by studying training based on the observation of parent's actions by infants with and without brain damage.
Observation of motor actions helps in the learning of new skills, thanks to the mirror neuron system that
matches observed and performed actions. New evidence suggests that this mechanism is present from birth,
but little is known about its role in motor development. This study aims to study whether a novel training
based on the observation of parents' hand action can influence the early development of hand reaching and
grasping in healthy infants, and improve motor function in infants with brain damage. This work will generate
new knowledge on the origins and early role of the mirror neuron system in humans, providing support for
novel interventions in infants with brain damage targeting a crucial and under exploited therapeutic window.
This project aims to explore in a randomised trial whether a novel training based on the observation of hand action can influence the early development of hand reaching and grasping in healthy infants and in infants with asymmetrical brain damage. We hypothesize that infants undergoing action observation training will show a faster development of reaching and grasping, due to the activation produced in the motor cortex by the observation of the movements (theory of the Mirror Neurons).
Can you help us?
We are looking for 36 healthy babies and 22 babies with asymmetric brain lesions. Babies in the study will be randomly assigned to one of two types of training.
For futher information, please contact:
Dr Valentina Burzi
Child Neuropsychiatrist, Research Coordinator
Ph: 050 886 239
Dr Gessica Tealdi
Ph: 050 886 239
Page of Australian branch of the project
This study receives funding support from the Mariani Foundation and from the Australian Research Council.