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Daniela Corbetta

Daniela CorbettaDaniela Corbetta
Ph.D., University of Geneva (1989)

Web site:
Phone: 865-974-3346

Key words: Developmental, Perceptual & Motor Development, Infancy

Research Interests

Developmental, Perceptual & Motor Development

Research statement

I study infant perceptual-motor development from a dynamic systems approach. I am particularly interested in the formation and changes occurring in infants' looking behavior at objects and scenes, visual attention, goal-directed reaching, bimanual coordination, and hand preference during the first year of life. I investigate the developmental links existing between these multiple perceptual, cognitive, and motor behavioral levels and I seek to understand the origins of the instabilities and fluctuations that are inherent to the development of these fundamental behaviors. I combine eye-tracking, motion analysis, cross-sectional, and longitudinal studies to help me understand these early processes of change.  My areas of inquiry also include understanding how infants learn to use their body to achieve a wide range of tasks from basic exploratory, spontaneous behaviors to the development of more goal-directed and manipulatory behaviors

  • Fellow #574, National Academy of Kinesiology (2018)
  • Chancellor's Research and Creative Achievement Award (2016)
  • Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Motor Learning and Development (2014-present)
  • Past-President, North American Society for Sport Psychology and Physical Activity (2017-2018)
  • President, North American Society for Sport Psychology and Physical Activity (2016-2017)
  • President-Elect, North American Society for Sport Psychology and Physical Activity (2015-2016)
  • Chancellor’s Award for Success in Multidisciplinary Research, University of Tennessee (2014)
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science (2009)
  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Movement Sciences and Sport Psychology, a specialty of Frontiers in Psychology (2013- present)
  • Editorial Board, Developmental Psychobiology, (2010 – present)
  • Consulting Editor, Developmental Psychology (2009 – 2011)
  • Editorial Board, Infancy (2008 – 2013)
  • Editorial Board, Infant and Child Development (2005 – present)
  • Scientific Committee, Science et Motricité (Movement and Sport Sciences)
  • Advanced Scientist, 3-yr post-doctoral Fellowship, Swiss National Science Foundation (1990-1992)
  • Manual Laterality, Language Lateralization: Origin and relationships during infant development, ANR-Agency of the National Research (France) - €175,322 (2013 – 2017)
  • Neural Correlates of Infant Attention and Action, NIH/NICHD - $ 389,508 (2013-2015).
  • Acquisition of Infant/Robot Grasp Learning Instrumentation, NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant - $446,920 (2012-2014)
  • Development of Eye-Hand Coordination in Infant Reaching, NIH/NICHD - $132,046 (2003-2005).


  • Corbetta, D., & Santello, M. (2019).  Reach-To-Grasp Behavior: Brain, Behavior, and Modelling Across the Life Span. New York: Taylor & Francis. ISBN-10: 9781138683228
  • Corbetta, D., & Fagard, J. Eds. (2017).  Infants’ Understanding and Production of Goal-Directed Actions in the Context of Social and Object-Related Interactions.  Lausanne: Frontiers Media. doi: 10.3389/978-2-88945-255-2
  • Roux, V., & Corbetta, D. (1989). The potter's wheel. New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Company. (Ethno archeological study)

Peer-Reviewed and Invited Publications:

  • Jover, M., & Corbetta, D. (in press). Le schéma corporel au prisme des travaux chez le nourrisson [Body schema from the perspective of infant studies]. In L. Dany (Ed.). Psychologie du corps et de l'apparence [Psychology of the body and apparence]. Marseille : Presses Universitaires de Provence.
  • Thurman, S.L., & Corbetta, D. (2019). Changes in Posture and Interactive Behaviors as Infants Progress From Sitting to Walking: A Longitudinal Study. Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental Psychology. 10:822. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00822
  • DiMercurio, A., Connell, J.P., Clark, M., & Corbetta, D. (2018). A naturalistic observation of spontaneous touches to the body and environment in the first 2 months of life. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognition, 9:2613. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02613
  • Corbetta, D., DiMercurio, A., Wiener, R.F., Connell, J.P., & Clark, M. (2018). How perception and action fosters exploration and selection in infant skills acquisition. In J. Plumert (Ed.), Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Vol 55: Studying the Perception-action System as a Model System for Understanding Development.(pp. 1-29)Elsevier
  • Corbetta, D., Wiener, R.F., & Thurman, S.L. (2018). Learning to reach in infancy. In D. Corbetta & M. Santello (Eds.), Reach-To-Grasp Behavior: Brain, Behavior, and Modelling Across the Life Span (pp. 18-41). New York: Taylor & Francis.
  • Corbetta, D., Wiener, R.F., Thurman, S.L., & McMahon, E. (2018). The embodied origins of infant reaching:  Implications for the emergence of eye-hand coordination. Kinesiology Review, 7, 10-17.
  • Wiener, R.F., Thurman, S.L., & Corbetta, D. (2018). Directing gaze on a scene prior to reaching for an object: Changes over the first year of life. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 6 (Suppl 1), S105 -S125. Special issue on “Object processing and motor development”.
  • Connell, J.P., DiMercurio, A., & Corbetta, D. (2017). Dynamic systems theory. To appear in J. Vonk and T. K. Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer International Publishing AG. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1594-1
  • Corbetta, D., & Fagard, J. (2017).  Editorial: Infants’ Understanding and Production of Goal-Directed Actions in the Context of Social and Object-Related Interactions. Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental Psychology, 8:787.
  • Thurman, S.L., & Corbetta, D. (2017). Spatial Exploration and Changes in Infant–Mother Dyads Around Transitions in Infant Locomotion. Developmental Psychology, 53, 1207-1221.
  • Williams, J.L. & Corbetta, D. (2016). Assessing the Impact of Movement Consequences on the Development of Early Reaching in Infancy. Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental Psychology, 7:587. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00587.
  • Corbetta, D., Williams, J. L., & Haynes, J. M. (2016).  Bare fingers, but no obvious influence of “prickly” Velcro! In the absence of parents’ encouragement, it is not clear that “sticky mittens” provide an advantage to the process of learning to reach. Infant Behavior and Development, 42, pp. 168-178.
  • Jacobsohn, L., Barreiros, J., & Corbetta, D. (2015). Preferred head turn and lateral arm movements in newborns. In V. Lopez & C. Gonçalves (eds.). “Estudos em Desenvolvimento Motor da Criança VIII” (Studies in motor development of children VIII) (pp. 50-55). Bragança, Portugal: Escola Superior De Educação Do Instituto Politécnico De Bragança (Ese : Ipb).
  • Bril, B., Dupuy, L., Dietrich, G., & Corbetta, D. (2015). Learning to tune the antero-posterior propulsive forces during walking: A necessary skill for mastering upright locomotion in toddlers. Experimental Brain Research, 233 (10), 2903-2912. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-015-4378-6
  • Williams, J. L., Corbetta, D., & Cobb, L. (2015). How perception, action, functional value, and context can shape the development of infant reaching. Movement and Sport Sciences [Science et Motricité], 89, 5-15.
  • Williams, J. L., Corbetta, D., & Guan, Y. (2015). Learning to reach with “sticky” and “non-sticky” mittens:  A tale of developmental trajectories. Infant Behavior and Development, 38, pp. 82-96. DOI: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2015.01.001
  • Corbetta, D., Thurman, S.L., Wiener, R.F, Guan, Y, & Williams, J.L. (2014). Mapping the feel of the arm with the sight of the object: On the embodied origins of infant reaching. Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science, 5:576. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00576
  • Corbetta, D., Friedman, D. R., & Bell, M. A. (2014). Brain reorganization as a function of walking experience in 12 month-old infants: Implications for the development of manual laterality. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:245. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00245
  • Jacobsohn, L., Rodrigues, P., Vasconcelos, O., Corbetta, D., & Barreiros, J. (2014). Lateral manual asymmetries: A longitudinal study from birth to 24 months. Developmental Psychobiology, 56, 58-72. doi: 10.1002/dev.21091
  • Jacobsohn, L., Rodrigues, P., Vasconcelos, O., Corbetta, D., & Barreiros, J. (2012).  Assimetrias laterais manuais: estudo longitudinal do nascimento aos 24 meses [Manual lateral asymmetries: A longitudinal study from birth to 24 months of age]. In R. Mendes, J. Barreiros, & O. Vasconcelos (Eds.), Estudos em Desenvolvimento Motor da Criança V [Studies in motor development in children V] (pp. 102-107). Coimbra, Portugal: Escola Superior de Educaçao Press.
  • Corbetta, D., Guan, Y., & Williams, J. L. (2012).  Une réévaluation du rôle de la vision dans le développement de la préhension chez le bébé. [A reevaluation of the role of vision in the development of reaching in infancy].  Enfance, 64(1), 49-60. Special issue on the "Early development of manual skills in young infants".
  • Guan, Y., & Corbetta, D. (2012). What grasps and holds 8-month-old infants' looking attention? The effects of object size and depth cues. Child Development Research, vol. 2012, Article ID 439618, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/439618.
  • Corbetta, D., Guan, Y., & Williams, J. L. (2012).  Infant eye-tracking in the context of goal-directed actions. Infancy,17, 102-125.
  • Dupuy, L., Bril, B., Dietrich, G., & Corbetta, D. (2011). A functional approach to learning to walk: Preliminary results. In  B.G. Bardy, J. Lalgarde, & D. Mottet (Eds.) Proceedings of the International Skills Conference 2011 (pp. 82-84). Pisa, Italy: Massimo Bergamasco.
  • 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.

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