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Welcome! » Faculty & Staff » Daniela Corbetta

Daniela Corbetta

Research statement

I study infant perceptual-motor development from a dynamic systems approach. I am particularly interested in the formation and changes occurring in infant reaching, bimanual coordination, and hand preference during the first year of life. I am currently investigating the developmental links existing between these early manual behaviors and I am seeking to understand the origins of the instabilities and fluctuations that are inherent to the development of these behaviors. My areas of inquiry also aim to understand how preferred patterns of spontaneous upper arm activity lead to the format of goal-oriented behaviors and to the development of object manipulation.


  • Advanced Scientist, 3-yr post-doctoral Fellowship, Swiss National Science Foundation (1990-1992)
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science
  • Editorial Board, Infant and Child Development (2005 – present)
  • Editorial Board, Infancy (2008 – present)
  • Editorial Board, Developmental Psychobiology, (2010 – present)
  • Consulting Editor, Developmental Psychology (2011 – present)


  • Development of Eye-Hand Coordination in Infant Reaching, NIH/NICHD - $132,046 (2003-2005).

Selected Publications

Smitsman, A. W., & Corbetta, D. (2010). Action in infancy: Perspectives, concepts, and challenges. In G. Bremner & T. Wachs (Eds.), Blackwell Handbook of Infant development (2nd edition). Blackwell.

Williams, J.L., Guan, Y., Corbetta, D., & Valero Garcia, A.V. (2010). “Tracking” the relationship between vision and reaching in 9-month-old infants.  In O. Vasconcelos, M. Botelho, R. Corredeira, J. Barreiros, & P. Rodrigues (Eds.), Estudos em Desenvolvimento Motor da Criança III [Studies in motor development in children III] (pp. 15-26). Porto: University of Porto Press.
Smitsman, A. W., & Corbetta, D. (2010). Action in infancy: Perspectives, concepts, and challenges. In J. G. Bremner & T. D. Wachs (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Infant Development (2nd edition): Volume 1: Basic Research (pp.167-203). Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell Ltd.

Corbetta, D. (2009). Brain, body, and mind: Lessons from infant motor development. In J.P. Spencer, M. Thomas, & J. McClelland (Eds.), Toward a Unified Theory of Development: Connectionism and Dynamic Systems Theory Re-Considered (pp. 51-66). New York: Oxford University Press.

Corbetta, D. (2009). Invited commentary on “Movement variability and the use of nonlinear tools: Principles to guide physical therapist practice”. Physical Therapy, 89, 282-284.

Corbetta, D. & Snapp-Childs, W. (2009). Seeing and touching: The role of sensory-motor experience on the development of infant reaching. Infant Behavior and Development, 32, 44-58.

Corbetta, D. (2009).  Perceptual development: Visually guided reaching.  In E. B. Goldstein (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Perception (pp. 771-774). Thousand Oak, CA: Sage Publishing Inc.

Snapp-Childs, W., & Corbetta, D. (2009).  Evidence of early strategies in learning to walk. Infancy, 14, 101-116.

Corbetta, D., & Ulrich, B.D. (2008).  Esther Thelen’s legacy: A dynamic world that continues to reach out to others. Infancy, 13, 197-203.

Corbetta, D., Williams, J., & Snapp-Childs, W. (2006).  Plasticity in the development of handedness: Evidence from normal development and early asymmetric brain injury. Developmental Psychobiology, 48, 460-471.

Spencer, J.P., Clearfield, M., Corbetta, D., Ulrich, B., Buchanan, P., & Schöner, G. (2006). Moving toward a grand theory of development: In memory of Esther Thelen. Child Development, 77, 1521-1538.

Adolph, K.E., Corbetta, D., Vereijken, B., & Spencer, J. (2005). Esther Thelen : In Memoriam. Infancy, 7, 1-4.

Corbetta, D. (2005). Dynamic interactions between posture, handedness, and bimanual coordination in human infants: Why stone knapping might be a uniquely hominid behavior. In V. Roux & B. Bril (Eds.), Stone knapping: The necessary conditions for a uniquely hominid behaviour (pp. 187-204). McDonald Institute Monograph Series, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bojczyk, K. E., & Corbetta, D. (2004). Object retrieval in the first year of life: Learning effects of task exposure and box transparency. Developmental Psychology, 40, 54-66.

Corbetta, D., & Bojczyk, K. E. (2002). Infants return to two-handed reaching when they are learning to walk. Journal of Motor Behavior, 34, 83-95.

Corbetta, D. (2000). Le corps et la pensée chez le bébé: Apport des systèmes dynamiques. [Body and mind in infancy: The contribution of dynamic systems]. Enfance, 3, 259-273. [Special issue].

Corbetta, D., Thelen, E., & Johnson, K. (2000). Motor constraints on the development of perception-action matching in infant reaching. Infant Behavior and Development, 23, 351-374. [Special issue].

Diedrich, F. J., Thelen, E., Smith, L. B., & Corbetta, D. (2000). Motor memory is a factor in infant perseverative errors. Developmental Science, 3, 479-494.

Daniela Corbetta

Daniela Corbetta

Ph.D., University of Geneva (1989)

Web site:
Phone: 865-974-3346

Key words: Developmental, Perceptual & motor development