Motor development research: II. The first two decades of the 21st century shaping our future

Jill Whitall, Farid Bardid, Nancy Getchell, Melissa Pangelinan, Leah E. Robinson, Nadja Schott, Jane E. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In Part I of this series (Whitall et al., this issue), we looked back at the 20th century and re-examined the history of Motor Development research described in Clark & Whitall’s 1989 paper “What is Motor Development? The Lessons of History”. We now move to the 21st Century, where the trajectories of developmental research have evolved in focus, branched in scope, and diverged into three new areas. These have progressed to be independent research areas, co-existing in time. We posit that the research focus on dynamical systems at the end of the 20th century has evolved into a Developmental Systems approach in the 21st century. Additionally, the focus on brain imaging and the neural basis of movement have resulted in a new approach, which we entitled, Developmental Motor Neuroscience. Finally, as the world-wide obesity epidemic identified in the 1990’s threatened to become a public health crisis, researchers in the field responded by examining the role of motor development in physical activity and health-related outcomes; this research area, we refer to as the Developmental Health approach. The glue that holds these research areas together is their focus on movement behavior as it changes across the lifespan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-390
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Motor Learning and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2020


  • motor development
  • history
  • developmental systems
  • developmental motor neuroscience
  • developmental health

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