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J Neurophysiol. 2013 Jun;109(12):3041-50. doi: 10.1152/jn.00532.2012. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

Differences in movement-related cortical activation patterns underlying motor performance in children with and without developmental coordination disorder.

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Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program and Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.


Behavioral deficits in visuomotor planning and control exhibited by children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) have been extensively reported. Although these functional impairments are thought to result from "atypical brain development," very few studies to date have identified potential neurological mechanisms. To address this knowledge gap, electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded from 6- to 12-yr-old children with and without DCD (n = 14 and 20, respectively) during the performance of a visuomotor drawing task. With respect to motor performance, typically developing (TD) children exhibited age-related improvements in key aspects of motor planning and control. Although some children with DCD performed outside this TD landscape (i.e., age-related changes within the TD group), the group developmental trajectory of the children with DCD was similar to that of the TD children. Despite overall similarities in performance, engagement of cortical resources in the children with DCD was markedly different from that in their TD counterparts. While the patterns of activation are stable in TD children across the age range, the young children with DCD exhibited less engagement of motor cortical brain areas and the older children with DCD exhibited greater engagement of motor cortical brain areas than their TD peers. These results suggest that older children with DCD may employ a compensatory strategy in which increased engagement of relevant motor resources allows these children to perform comparably to their TD peers. Moreover, the magnitude of activation was related to several kinematic measures, particularly in children with DCD, suggesting that greater engagement in motor resources may underlie better behavioral performance.


EEG; atypical development; development; spectral power

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