Motor learning and working memory in children born preterm: a systematic review

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Apr;36(4):1314-30. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.02.005. Epub 2012 Feb 13.


Children born preterm have a higher risk for developing motor, cognitive, and behavioral problems. Motor problems can occur in combination with working memory problems, and working memory is important for explicit learning of motor skills. The relation between motor learning and working memory has never been reviewed. The goal of this review was to provide an overview of motor learning, visual working memory and the role of working memory on motor learning in preterm children. A systematic review conducted in four databases identified 38 relevant articles, which were evaluated for methodological quality. Only 4 of 38 articles discussed motor learning in preterm children. Thirty-four studies reported on visual working memory; preterm birth affected performance on visual working memory tests. Information regarding motor learning and the role of working memory on the different components of motor learning was not available. Future research should address this issue. Insight in the relation between motor learning and visual working memory may contribute to the development of evidence based intervention programs for children born preterm.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Infant, Premature / psychology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology