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The Development of Visual and Proprioceptive Control: A Whole- Body Perspective

MOWBRAY, RACHEL (2021) The Development of Visual and Proprioceptive Control: A Whole- Body Perspective. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Both the arms and the legs are crucial for everyday movement. Moreover, natural movement (like walking or dancing) frequently involves all four limbs simultaneously. However, our understanding of lower limb and whole-body sensorimotor control in children is limited because developmental research has traditionally focused on simple, single limb tasks (usually with just the arms). To address this, we investigated how children use visual and proprioceptive cues to perform both arm and leg movements, as well as complex, whole-body tasks.
Part 1 – Visual Control
In study 1, we showed that 6- to 8-year-olds rely on vision to the same extent as adults for stepping and reaching. However, stepping and reaching had different developmental profiles, with stepping error reducing between 6 and 8 years, whilst reaching error was stable. In study 2, 8-year-olds walked over stepping targets whilst we manipulated how many of the upcoming targets were visible. Children’s foot placement error was higher than adults’. Nonetheless, children showed adultlike planning by slowing down and reducing error when they were unable to see at least 2 steps ahead.
Part 2 – Proprioceptive Control
In study 3, children attempted to remember and reproduce target arm and leg movements, following active (forward model generated) and passive (no forward model) target movement. Children performed poorly compared to adults and did not benefit from forward models. In study 4, we investigated whether children’s whole-body proprioception and general movement skills could be improved by dance (relative to standard physical education or a non-movement control program). Despite finding no significant effect of dance on proprioception, we identified interesting inter-group differences and changes in sensorimotor skill over time.
Whole-body sensorimotor development is protracted and asynchronous. Upper and lower limb control have different developmental profiles and visual control matures before proprioceptive control. In the visual domain, children show sophisticated control strategies even before mature movement execution.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Development Movement Vision Proprioception Walking Dance Children Motion Capture Virtual Reality Sensorimotor
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Psychology, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 Mar 2021 09:47

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