Development of visuomotor representations for hand movement in young children

José L. Contreras-Vidal, Jin Bo, J. Paul Boudreau, Jane E. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The stability and adaptability of visuomotor representations for hand movement in young children was investigated using a visuomotor adaptation paradigm in which the real-time visual feedback of pen movement was rotated 45° clockwise during exposure trials. Four, six, and eight-year-old children performed line drawings to visual targets, from a common centered position ("center-out task"), in the horizontal plane under normal (pre-, and post-exposure), and rotated (exposure) visual feedback conditions. Analysis of pre-exposure trials indicated that older children performed faster, straighter, smoother, and showed more patterned movements than the younger children. Initial direction of movement, computed at 80 ms after movement onset, showed a progressive tuning of movement direction with increasing age. On introduction of the screen cursor rotation, all age group children showed improvement in their planning (initial directional error) and execution (movement time, movement length, root mean square error, and normalized jerk) error scores from early to late-exposure trials, but the 4-year-olds were less affected than older age children by the distortion during the early exposure period. Moreover, only the oldest group of children showed significant after-effects during post-exposure trials indicating that only this age group learned the internal model of the distorted environment. The absence of after-effects for initial movement direction observed in the two younger age groups suggest that these children might have less developed (i.e. more broad) internal visuomotor representations for hand movements, and that their internal representations are sharpened (i.e. tuned) with visuomotor experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-164
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Development
  • Internal model
  • Kinematic distortion
  • Sensorimotor integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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