Motor imagery and developmental coordination disorder (DCD)

Williams, J 2006, Motor imagery and developmental coordination disorder (DCD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Motor imagery and developmental coordination disorder (DCD)
Author(s) Williams, J
Year 2006
Abstract Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is characterised by impairments to motor control and learning, the cause of which remains unclear. Recently, researchers have used cognitive neuroscientific approaches to explore the basis of poor coordination in children, with one hypothesis suggesting that an internal modelling deficit (IMD) is one of the underlying causes of DCD. The aim of this thesis was to further test the IMD hypothesis using a motor imagery paradigm - the mental rotation of hands. Versions of this task were used in all studies to assess motor imagery ability, with an additional whole-body task used in Studies 2 and 3.

Further, an alphanumeric rotation task was used in Studies 1 and 2 to assess visual imagery ability. Studies 1 and 2 provided varying levels of support for the IMD hypothesis. In Study 1, only a subgroup of DCD children performed differently from other children in the study on the hand tasks, but tighter task constraints in Study 2 led to overall group differences between DCD and controls in terms of accuracy. The DCD group were also significantly less accurate than controls in the whole-body task, but there were no group differences in either Study 1 or 2 on the visual imagery task.

Interestingly, in Study 2, there was an indication that children with severe levels of motor impairment were less accurate than children with less severe motor impairment, suggesting that motor impairment level could play a role in the severity of motor imagery deficits.

Study 3 was designed to explore the impact of motor impairment severity on motor imagery ability further. The results confirmed that children with severe DCD had greater motor imagery impairment than children with mild DCD - children with severe DCD performed less accurately than both controls and those with mild DCD in the hand task with instructions and the controls in the whole-body task. Further, those children with mild DCD were able to respond somewhat to motor imagery instructions, whereas those with severe DCD were not. This study provided support to the IMD hypothesis, though the deficit was shown to be dependent on a number of factors.

Chapter 5 presents a reasoned account of these various findings and their implications are discussed. It is concluded that motor imagery deficits are evident in many children with DCD, but more so in children with severe motor impairment. A general imagery deficit was ruled out based on the findings of Studies 1 and 2 which showed that visual imagery processes appear intact in children with DCD. Taken together with previous imagery and IMD studies, and related research on feedforward control in DCD, it is concluded that the deficits in motor imagery observed in this thesis are consistent with the hypothesis that an IMD is one likely causal factor in the disorder, particularly in more severe DCD. The observation of differing response patterns between children with mild and severe forms of DCD has important implications for developing a theory of DCD and for remediation.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
Motor imagery
Mental rotation
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Created: Wed, 16 Feb 2011, 16:53:18 EST
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