Motor skill learning with impaired transfer by children with developmental coordination disorder

Esther Adi-Japha, Gitit Brestel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: DSM-5 criteria for developmental coordination disorder (DCD) emphasize deficits in the acquisition and execution of coordinated motor skills. Previous studies of motor skill learning in DCD suggest deficits in the execution of motor skills but do not reveal a deficit in learning new skills, possibly because of the heterogeneity of motor deficits in DCD. Aim: In light of the high prevalence of handwriting difficulties among children with DCD, the current study compared motor skill learning in 5–6-year-old children with DCD and their peers using a grapho-motor learning task that resembles a letter-writing practice. Methods: Thirty-two boys, 16 with DCD, learned to produce a new “letter” formed by connecting three dots. Training, following-day consolidation, 1-week post-training retention, and far-transfer to a no-dot condition were tested. Results: Children with DCD exhibited rates of learning similar to those of their peers, but with overall poorer performance, replicating previous findings. Contrary to reports of intact skill transfer following a consolidation period in DCD, impaired transfer of the learned symbol was observed. Conclusions: These findings may explain some of the motor difficulties experienced by children with DCD as well as contribute to the discussion on mechanisms involved in skill learning in these children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103671
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Generalization
  • Implicit learning
  • Invented letter task
  • Motor skill learning
  • Procedural memory


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