The role of early fine and gross motor development on later motor and cognitive ability.Hum Mov Sci. 2008 Oct; 27(5):668-81.HM
The aim of this study was to determine whether information obtained from measures of motor performance taken from birth to 4 years of age predicted motor and cognitive performance of children once they reached school age. Participants included 33 children aged from 6 years to 11 years and 6 months who had been assessed at ages 4 months to 4 years using the ages and stages questionnaires (ASQ: [Squires, J. K., Potter, L., & Bricker, D. (1995). The ages and stages questionnaire users guide. Baltimore: Brookes]). These scores were used to obtain trajectory information consisting of the age of asymptote, maximum or minimum score, and the variance of ASQ scores. At school age, both motor and cognitive ability were assessed using the McCarron Assessment of Neuromuscular Development (MAND: [McCarron, L. (1997). McCarron assessment of neuromuscular development: Fine and gross motor abilities (revised ed.). Dallas, TX: Common Market Press.]), and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Version IV (WISC-IV: [Wechsler, D. (2004). WISC-IV integrated technical and interpretive manual. San Antonio, Texas: Harcourt Assessment]). In contrast to previous research, results demonstrated that, although socio-economic status (SES) predicted fine motor performance and three of four cognitive domains at school age, gestational age was not a significant predictor of later development. This may have been due to the low-risk nature of the sample. After controlling for SES, fine motor trajectory information did not account for a significant proportion of the variance in school aged fine motor performance or cognitive performance. The ASQ gross motor trajectory set of predictors accounted for a significant proportion of the variance for cognitive performance once SES was controlled for. Further analysis showed a significant predictive relationship for gross motor trajectory information and the subtests of working memory and processing speed. These results provide evidence for detecting children at risk of developmental delays or disorders with a parent report questionnaire prior to school age. The findings also add to recent investigations into the relationship between early motor development and later cognitive function, and support the need for ongoing research into a potential etiological relationship.