Quiet eye training facilitates visuomotor coordination in children with DCD

Our latest research paper has now been published in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities.  The paper is titled ‘Quiet eye training facilitates visuomotor coordination in children with developmental coordination disorder‘ and describes our first study that used this intervention technique to help children diagnosed with DCD.

This study is part of a series of papers our group are producing examining how we can use quiet eye training to help children with poor motor coordination.  For those who have not come across it yet, the quiet eye is the final visual fixation (or gaze) on an object or target before the critical movements are initiated.  For example the quiet eye is the final fixation on a target before a person starts a throwing action, or the quiet eye is the final tracking gaze on an object before a catch.

The first of our studies (Wilson et al., 2013) showed that children with poor motor coordination had shorter quiet eye durations that are initiated later in comparison to ‘typically developing’ and highly skilled children in a throwing and catching task.  As a reflection of these, these children also performed worse on the task.

The second of our studies (Miles et al., 2014) introduced a brief quiet eye training protocol for children with lower motor coordination (~40th percentile of the UK norms). This protocol consisted of a series of short instructional videos and exercises that focused on prolonging the participant’s quiet eye durations.  In all the training took around 1hour, and encouragingly, not only did the children learn to use this longer quiet eye strategy, but they also significantly improved their throwing and catching performance over their pre-training levels and they performed significantly better than a group of children who had received ‘traditional’ training instructions for the same period of time.

The latest study to be published (Miles et al., 2015) introduced the same short quiet eye training protocol to children who were diagnosed with Developmental Coordination Disorder.  This study produced some interesting findings, as although the children made significant changes to their quiet eye behaviour as expected, their performance improvements were reflected more in a change of technique rather than successful attempts.  In other words, children with poor motor coordination tend to use a catching technique of stretching their arms out in front of them, avoiding bending their elbows as this means they have fewer joints and movements they need to control and coordinate. This is shown in the first cartoon.  However the DCD children who had received quiet eye training chose to bend their elbows significantly more after training which is indicative of highly coordinated children and adults.  This technique is shown in the second cartoon.  This perhaps indicates an increase in their perceptions of limb control and confidence in performing the task.  This change in technique may also explain why the children did not improve quite so much as the children in the earlier study.

Before quiet eye training

bad catch

 After quiet eye training
good catch

Links to this paper and others are available in the publications page.

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