Hysteresis and motor planning in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

2015 annual meeting of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)


North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)


Portland, OR

Publication Date



Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit rigidity of motor plans and difficulties planning and executing movements (Eigsti et al., 2013). Those with ASD may also have difficulty formulating new or switching between different motor plans. In typically developing individuals, sequential actions exhibit hysteresis, a phenomenon where a specific motor plan is influenced by recent, similar motor actions. We sought to determine if hysteresis was stronger in children with ASD. A rotation motor task measured the rigidity of motor planning (hysteresis) of five ASD children, and 5 control participants. A stick was placed in one of 24 different orientations around a circle. The researcher moved the stick counterclockwise or clockwise in subsequent trials. A participant grasped the stick and returned it to the home position. Researchers measured the position at which the child switched from a thumb up to a thumb down grasp in each direction. The peak counterclockwise switch occurred later for children with ASD. The grasp also changed less frequently for the ASD than for the control group. Our results suggest that changing a grasp was more costly than being comfortable, and that hysteresis was more prevalent in children with ASD than in the control group.

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