Neuromotor deficits in developmental coordination disorder: Evidence from a reach-to-grasp task

Marina Biancotto, Aldo Skabar, Maria Bulgheroni, Marco Carrozzi, Stefania Zoia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) has been classified as a specific learning disability, nonetheless the underlying cognitive mechanisms are still a matter of discussion. After a summary of the main hypotheses on the principal neuromotor causes of DCD, this study applies a causal model framework to describe the possible coexistence of more than one deficit in this disorder. For this purpose, kinematic analysis was applied to an ecological task, the reach-to-grasp action, introducing the manipulation of three variables: vision, distance and object size. After a thorough neurological and neuropsychological evaluation, 9 children with DCD (7-9 years old) were selected and compared to 27 age-matched control children. The results suggest that children with DCD have a normal neurological characterization of the reaching and grasping movements, in terms of proximal to distal action, but their grasping aperture (MGA) was always wider with respect to controls, particularly when vision was not allowed. In addition, the performance of children with DCD was always slower, more dependent on vision and more variable than that of controls. The MGA of children with DCD could be explained by a deficit in the internal construction of movement for a forward model, while slowness could be related to a control problem in the neuronal firing of the muscles. The idea of a possible coexistence of these two deficits is discussed in accordance to a causal model framework and also addressed considering recent neurophysiologic evidences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1293-1300
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • Causal model
  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • Kinematic analysis
  • Reach-to-grasp action

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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