Internal representation of movement in children with developmental coordination disorder: a mental rotation task

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2004 Nov;46(11):754-9. doi: 10.1017/s001216220400129x.


Recent studies show that children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) have difficulties in generating an accurate visuospatial representation of an intended action, which are shown by deficits in motor imagery. This study sought to test this hypothesis further using a mental rotation paradigm. It was predicted that children with DCD would not conform to the typical pattern of responding when required to imagine movement of their limbs. Participants included 16 children with DCD and 18 control children; mean age for the DCD group was 10 years 4 months, and for controls 10 years. The task required children to judge the handedness of single-hand images that were presented at angles between 0 degrees and 180 degrees at 45 degrees intervals in either direction. Results were broadly consistent with the hypothesis above. Responses of the control children conformed to the typical pattern of mental rotation: a moderate trade-off between response time and angle of rotation. The response pattern for the DCD group was less typical, with a small trade-off function. Response accuracy did not differ between groups. It was suggested that children with DCD, unlike controls, do not automatically enlist motor imagery when performing mental rotation, but rely on an alternative object-based strategy that preserves speed and accuracy. This occurs because these children manifest a reduced ability to make imagined transformations from an egocentric or first-person perspective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Motion Perception*
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Rotation*