Publicaties 2014

Assessing motor imagery using the hand rotation task: Does performance change across childhood?

This study examined at what age children can engage in the hand rotation task (as a measure of motor imagery); whether engagement changes across development and; the influence of age and motor skill on performance. Children were aged 5-12years (N=101; 52 girls), with no IQ or motor skill impairment. Less than 40% of 5-6year olds completed the hand rotation with sufficient accuracy for further analysis, compared with 80% of 7-8year olds, and 90% aged 9 and above. From age 7, either or both response time (RT) and accuracy conformed to the biomechanical constraints of corresponding physical movements. Although RT did not improve with age, accuracy did, with 11year olds significantly more accurate than 7 and 8year olds. Importantly, efficiency (RT/accuracy) improved with age and both age, in months, and motor skill level were significant predictors of efficiency, accounting for 35% and 8% of variability, respectively. Improvements in motor imagery ability during childhood are likely the result of increased neural efficiency, developing as the result of complex interactions between endogenous and exogenous factors. This highlights the need for a multidisciplinary approach to further our understanding of the emergence of motor imagery ability.