Motor imagery ability and internal representation of movement in children with probable developmental coordination disorder
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© 2015 Elsevier B.V. It has been hypothesised that deficits in the functioning of the mirror neuron system (MNS) and internal modelling may contribute to the motor impairments associated with DCD. These processes can be explored behaviourally through motor imagery paradigms. Motor imagery proficiency of children with and without probable DCD (pDCD) was examined using a complex hand rotation task to explore whether motor imagery strategies could be used during more complex tasks. Forty-four boys aged 7-13. years participated, 22 with pDCD (mean = 9.90. years ± 1.57) and 22 controls (mean = 9.68. years ± 1.53). Participants completed the task twice: with and without motor imagery instructions. Stimuli were presented in two rotational axes - palm/back, and eight 45° rotational steps. Both groups showed evidence of following the biomechanical and postural constraints of actual movements. Responses of children with pDCD were slower and less accurate than controls, with group differences increasing alongside task complexity. A greater impact of biomechanical constraints for accuracy was observed in the DCD group. The response characteristics of children with pDCD likely reflects a reduced capacity to mentally manipulate a body schema and reduced visuo-motor processing capabilities. Behaviourally, these processes are linked to MNS and internal modelling function, suggesting deficits in these systems may contribute to the movement difficulties characteristic of DCD.
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