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Development of motor speed and associated movements from 5 to 18 years.
Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology
AIM: To study the development of motor speed and associated movements in participants aged 5 to 18 years for age, sex, and laterality. METHOD: Ten motor tasks of the Zurich Neuromotor Assessment (repetitive and alternating movements of hands and feet, repetitive and sequential finger movements, the pegboard, static and dynamic balance, diadochokinesis) were administered to 593 right-handed participants (286 males, 307 females). RESULTS: A strong improvement with age was observed in motor speed from age 5 to 10, followed by a levelling-off between 12 and 18 years. Simple tasks and the pegboard matured early and complex tasks later. Simple tasks showed no associated movements beyond early childhood; in complex tasks associated movements persisted until early adulthood. The two sexes differed only marginally in speed, but markedly in associated movements. A significant laterality (p<0.001) in speed was found for all tasks except for static balance; the pegboard was most lateralized, and sequential finger movements least. Associated movements were lateralized only for a few complex tasks. We also noted a substantial interindividual variability. INTERPRETATION: Motor speed and associated movements improve strongly in childhood, weakly in adolescence, and are both of developmental relevance. Because they correlate weakly, they provide complementary information.
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