Reaching for Objects or Asking for Them: Distance Estimation in 7- to 15-Year-Old Children

Claudia Scorolli, Elena Daprati, Daniele Nico, Anna M. Borghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to determine if, in children, subjective perception of space is modulated by the experience of reaching distal objects by means of tools and verbal labels. We presented 7-15-year-old participants with objects located in the near and far space, and in the threshold area between these spaces (border space). Before and after a training session, separate groups of participants estimated objects' location by providing a verbal estimation of their distance (n = 12) or by rolling a toy car to match their location (motor-based estimation; n = 16). The training session required interaction with the targets (i.e., actively experiencing the perceived distance) and included use of a rake or a linguistic label when far objects were involved. A control condition in which training implied use of a short, ineffective tool was also tested (n = 6). Results showed that verbal estimations were not affected by the training phase (p > .05). In contrast, training modulated motor-based estimations relative to border space. Specifically, maximal distance of toy car displacements was reduced following all kinds of training (p < .01). These results indicate that, similarly to adults, the boundary between near and far space is not fixed in children and that both active tool use and verbal labels can modulate this uncertain boundary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-91
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Distance Perception
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Orientation
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Space Perception
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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