Here's an interesting little paper that suggests that doing helps us 'see' - or visually recognize. For the experiments, visual objects were grouped with similar functional (action-related) properties, then accuracies at visual recognition tested.
It shows us how tightly coupled our sensory and motor associations or representations are - so that a strong motor knowledge (hands-on experience) could help us become more expert at visual discrimination...something that might be particularly important for engineers and inventors.
Time to tinker can erode if children become overscheduled or over-burdened with school work, or have little opportunity because tinkering time has been eliminated by the change in day-to-day family dynamics in busy dual-career families.
For some folks, a study like this might be interesting because it suggests why kids with mild fine motor delay also have visual problems or make frequent "careless" errors. The close links between doing and seeing may also account for why we've seen some kids have quite significant boosts in vision or motor ability, when just one of the two systems are improved. The brain is not organized into separated functional bits(ala phrenology), but rather very interrelated systems that are constantly dynamically adjusting and coordinating function together so that the whole is much more than the parts.
By the way, speaking of time-to-tinker, we are going to take a big blog break, and post only intermittently until we get back from our West Coast book tour for The Mislabeled Child in October. Please say hello if you are able to come to one of our talks. All of our talks are free and open to the public. And you're excited about our approach to learning, please help us spread the word. Thanks!
Action representations and visual object recognition pdf
Teaching kids to tinker so they can design tomorrow's machines