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Combined action observation and motor imagery facilitates visuomotor adaptation in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder

Ben, Marshall and David, Wright and Paul, Holmes and Jacqueline, Williams and Wood, Greg (2020) Combined action observation and motor imagery facilitates visuomotor adaptation in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities. ISSN 0891-4222

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Abstract

The internal modelling deficit (IMD) hypothesis suggests that motor control issues associated with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) are the result of impaired predictive motor control. In this study, we examined the benefits of a combined action observation and motor imagery (AO+MI) intervention designed to alleviate deficits in internal modelling and improve eye-hand coordination during a visuomotor rotation task. Twenty children with DCD were randomly assigned to either an AO+MI group (who watched a video of a performer completing the task whilst simultaneously imagining the kinaesthetic sensations associated with action execution) or a control group (who watched unrelated videos involving no motor content). Each group then attempted to learn a 90o visuomotor rotation while measurements of completion time, eye-movement behaviour and movement kinematics were recorded. As predicted, after training, the AO+MI group exhibited quicker completion times, more target-focused eye-movement behaviour and smoother movement kinematics compared to the control group. No significant after-effects were present. These results offer further support for the IMD hypothesis and suggest that AO+MI interventions may help to alleviate such deficits and improve motor performance in children with DCD.

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