Problems in the coupling of eye and hand in the sequential movements of children with developmental coordination disorder
Wilmut, K., Wann, J.P. and Brown, J.H. (2006) Problems in the coupling of eye and hand in the sequential movements of children with developmental coordination disorder. Child: Care, Health and Development, 32 (6). pp. 665-678. ISSN 0305-1862
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2006.00678.x
Background: Shifting gaze and attention ahead of the hand is a natural component in the performance of skilled manual actions. Very few studies have examined the precise co-ordination between the eye and hand in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Methods This study directly assessed the maturity of eye-hand co-ordination in children with DCD. A double-step pointing task was used to investigate the coupling of the eye and hand in 7-year-old children with and without DCD. Sequential targets were presented on a computer screen, and eye and hand movements were recorded simultaneously. Results There were no differences between typically developing (TD) and DCD groups when completing fast single-target tasks. There were very few differences in the completion of the first movement in the double-step tasks, but differences did occur during the second sequential movement. One factor appeared to be the propensity for the DCD children to delay their hand movement until some period after the eye had landed on the target. This resulted in a marked increase in eye-hand lead during the second movement, disrupting the close coupling and leading to a slower and less accurate hand movement among children with DCD. Conclusions In contrast to skilled adults, both groups of children preferred to foveate the target prior to initiating a hand movement if time allowed. The TD children, however, were more able to reduce this foveation period and shift towards a feedforward mode of control for hand movements. The children with DCD persevered with a look-then-move strategy, which led to an increase in error. For the group of DCD children in this study, there was no evidence of a problem in speed or accuracy of simple movements, but there was a difficulty in concatenating the sequential shifts of gaze and hand required for the completion of everyday tasks or typical assessment items.