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In this paper, we propose a novel model – the TWAIN-model – to describe the durations of two-step actions in a reach-to-place task in human infants. Previous research demonstrates that infants and adults plan their actions across multiple steps. They adjust, for instance, the velocity of a reaching action depending on what they intend to do with the object once it is grasped. Despite these findings and irrespective of the larger context in which the action occurs, current models (e.g., Fitts’ law) target single, isolated actions, as for example pointing to a goal. In the current paper, we develop and empirically test a more ecologically valid model of two-step action planning. More specifically, 61 18-month-olds took part in a reach-to-place task and their reaching and placing durations were measured with a motion-capture system. Our model explained the highest amount of variance in placing duration and outperformed six previously suggested models, when using model comparison. We show that including parameters of the first action step, here the duration of the reaching action, can improve the description of the second action step, here the duration of the placing action. This move towards more ecologically valid models of action planning contributes knowledge as well as a framework for assessing human machine interactions. The TWAIN-model provides an updated way to quantify motor learning by the time these abilities develop, which might help to assess performance in typically developing human children.
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