Multi-limb coordination and rhythmic variability under varying sensory availability conditions in children with DCD

Sam J. Mackenzie, Nancy Getchell, Katherine Deutsch, Annemiek Wilms-Floet, Jane E. Clark, Jill Whitall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) have sensory processing deficits; how do these influence the interface between sensory input and motor performance? Previously, we found that children with DCD were less able to organize and maintain a gross motor coordination task in time to an auditory cue, particularly at higher frequencies [Whitall, J., Getchell, N., McMenamin, S., Horn, C., Wilms-Floet, A., & Clark, J. (2006). Perception-action coupling in children with and without DCD: Frequency locking between task relevant auditory signals and motor responses in a dual motor task. Child: Care, Health, and Development, 32, 679-692]. In the present study, we examine the same task (clapping in-phase to marching on a platform) under conditions involving the removal of vision and hearing. Eleven children with DCD (mean = 7.21, SD = 0.52 years), 7 typically developing (TD) children (mean = 6.95 ± 0.72 years), and 10 adults performed continuous clapping while marching under four conditions: with vision and hearing, without vision, without hearing, and without both. Results showed no significant condition effects for any measure taken. The DCD group was more variable in phasing their claps and footfalls than both the adult group and the TD group. There were also significant group effects for inter-clap interval coefficient of variation and inter-footfall interval coefficient of variation, with the DCD group being the most variable for both measures. Coherence analysis between limb combinations (e.g., left arm-right arm, right arm-left leg) revealed that the adults exhibited significantly greater coherence for each combination than both of the children's groups. The TD group showed significantly greater coherence than the DCD group for every limb combination except foot-foot and left hand-right foot. Measures of approximate entropy indicated that adults differed from children both with and without DCD in the structure of the variability across a trial with adults showing more complexity. Children with DCD are able to accomplish a self-initiated gross-motor coordination task but with increased variability for most but not all measures compared to typically developing children. The availability of visual and/or auditory information does not play a significant role in stabilizing temporal coordination of this task, suggesting that these are not salient sources of information for this particular task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-269
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Movement Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory
  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • Motor coordination
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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