Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Kinesiology and Health Science
For a person to be able to act adaptively within their environment and interact with other individuals, they need to be able to plan ahead and be able to solve problems with multiple steps (Cox & Smitsman, 2006). Motor planning is most commonly assessed via a binary metric of end-state comfort where the outcome is either comfort at the end of the movement (end state) or comfort at the beginning of the movement (beginning state; Rosenbaum et al., 1990). For example, when a person picks up a hammer to hammer a nail, they can plan ahead and grasp the hammer in an uncomfortable or awkward grasp (thumb pointing toward the body) to facilitate a comfortable body configuration during the hammering movement. Meyer et al. (2013) had participants move a book from a lower shelf to a higher shelf. They found an inverse relationship between where the book was grasped and how high the shelf was. By examining how participants grasped a book, not only could end-state comfort be examined, but also motor planning span. Motor planning span is defined as the number of steps in an action that can be planned in a sequence. If an individual ends with a comfortable posture, we infer that proper or sufficient planning has occurred. Conversely, if a participant ends with a more awkward, or less comfortable posture, we infer that planning has not occurred or that planning was not as efficient. This is most often seen in children up to the age of 10 (Rosenbaum et al., 1990) and in individuals with known cognitive or motor disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)(Studenka et al., 2017). Studenka & Meyers (2020) found that children with ASD experienced longer times grasping an object before moving it and shorter reaction times suggesting that adjustments of the action were performed during the movement rather than beforehand.
Garren, Maia, "Effects of Increased Motor Span on Reaction Time and Movement Time" (2023). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 1731.
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