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A test of motor (not executive) planning in developmental coordination disorder and autism

van Swieten, L.M., van Bergen, E., Williams, J.H.G., Wilson, A.D., Plumb, M.S., Kent, S.W. and Mon-Williams, M. (2010) A test of motor (not executive) planning in developmental coordination disorder and autism. Journal of Experimental Psychology Human Perception and Performance, 36 (2). 493-499 . ISSN 0096-1523

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Grip selection tasks have been used to test ‘planning’ in both autism and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). We differentiate between motor and executive planning and present a modified version of a motor planning task. Participants reached-and-grasped a cylinder in one of two orientations before turning it clockwise or anticlockwise. On half the trials, the turning action only resulted in a comfortable final posture at the cost of making a harder initial reach-to-grasp action; ending comfortably has been taken as the evidence of ‘planning’. We hypothesised that initial grip selection (easier or harder) would be dominated by motoric developmental status. Adults always selected an initial grip that resulted in a comfortable end-state when reaching with their dominant hand, but occasionally ended uncomfortably with their non-dominant hand. Most 9-14 year old children with and without autism also showed this ‘end state comfort’ bias, compared with only half of children aged 5-8 years. In contrast, children with developmental coordination disorder were biased towards selecting the simplest (minimal rotation) initial movement, even at the cost of end state comfort. Our results are best understood in terms of motor planning, with selection of an easier initial grip resulting from poor reach-to-grasp control rather than an executive planning deficit. The absence of differences between children with autism and controls may reflect the low demand this task actually places on executive planning abilities.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: This is an author produced version of a paper accepted for publication in 'Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance'. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > School of Psychology (Leeds) > Cognitive Psychology (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Biological Sciences (Leeds) > Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology (Leeds) > Cardiovascular and Sports Sciences Group (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2009 12:47
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2014 20:28
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0017177
Status: Published
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1037/a0017177
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9873

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