Developmental coordination disorder pertains to a deficit in perceptuo-motor synchronization independent of attentional capacities.

Abstract

We investigated from a dynamic pattern perspective to motor coordination whether the deficiency in motor coordination characterizing Developmental Coordination Disorder children pertains to a general disorder in synchronization leading to a lower stability of the performed coordination pattern, and the extent to which the trouble is linked to attentional capacities. Twenty-four DCD children without ADHD aged eight to thirteen and 60 control children were asked (1) to perform a Continuous Performance Test assessing sustained attention; (2) to flex one finger either in synchrony or in syncopation with a visual periodic signal whose frequency was increased stepwise, assessing synchronization abilities. For the attentional task, percentage of exact responses, number of errors and reaction time were recorded. For the synchronization task, we measured relative phase (i.e., the ratio between the stimulus and the response onset and the time separating two successive stimuli). DCD children were significantly more variable than controls in both conditions and the difficulty in synchronization was unrelated to attentional disorders (ANCOVA). These findings support the idea of a general synchronization disorder in DCD children underlying their poor motor coordination. Moreover, this synchronization disorder does not appear to be strictly dependent on the level of sustained attentional capacities.

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