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Manual control age and sex differences in 4 to 11 year old children.

Flatters I, Hill LJ, Williams JH, Barber SE, Mon-Williams M - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: A small but reliable sex difference was found in tracing skill, with girls showing a slightly higher level of performance than boys irrespective of age.Overall, the findings suggest that prepubescent girls are more likely to have superior manual control abilities for performing novel tasks.However, these small population differences do not suggest that the sexes require different educational support whilst developing their manual skills.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
To what degree does being male or female influence the development of manual skills in pre-pubescent children? This question is important because of the emphasis placed on developing important new manual skills during this period of a child's education (e.g. writing, drawing, using computers). We investigated age and sex-differences in the ability of 422 children to control a handheld stylus. A task battery deployed using tablet PC technology presented interactive visual targets on a computer screen whilst simultaneously recording participant's objective kinematic responses, via their interactions with the on-screen stimuli using the handheld stylus. The battery required children use the stylus to: (i) make a series of aiming movements, (ii) trace a series of abstract shapes and (iii) track a moving object. The tasks were not familiar to the children, allowing measurement of a general ability that might be meaningfully labelled 'manual control', whilst minimising culturally determined differences in experience (as much as possible). A reliable interaction between sex and age was found on the aiming task, with girls' movement times being faster than boys in younger age groups (e.g. 4-5 years) but with this pattern reversing in older children (10-11 years). The improved performance in older boys on the aiming task is consistent with prior evidence of a male advantage for gross-motor aiming tasks, which begins to emerge during adolescence. A small but reliable sex difference was found in tracing skill, with girls showing a slightly higher level of performance than boys irrespective of age. There were no reliable sex differences between boys and girls on the tracking task. Overall, the findings suggest that prepubescent girls are more likely to have superior manual control abilities for performing novel tasks. However, these small population differences do not suggest that the sexes require different educational support whilst developing their manual skills.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Illustrations of the three manual control battery tasks: (a) Tracking, (b) Aiming and (c) Tracing.(a) Left is a schematic of first Tracking trial (i.e. without ‘Guideline’), annotated with a dotted line to indicate the trajectory of the moving dot. Right is a schematic of the second Tracking trial, which included the additional Guideline. (b) Schematic of the Aiming subtest, annotated with dotted arrows implying the movements participants would make with their stylus to move off the start position, between target locations and to reach the finish position. On the 4th panel further annotations indicate the locations in which targets sequentially appeared, with numbers indicating the sequence in which they were cued. (c) Left is a schematic depicting tracing path A and right is a schematic depicting tracing path B. The black shaky lines are an example of the ‘ink trails’ a participant would produce with their stylus in the course of tracing.
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pone-0088692-g001: Illustrations of the three manual control battery tasks: (a) Tracking, (b) Aiming and (c) Tracing.(a) Left is a schematic of first Tracking trial (i.e. without ‘Guideline’), annotated with a dotted line to indicate the trajectory of the moving dot. Right is a schematic of the second Tracking trial, which included the additional Guideline. (b) Schematic of the Aiming subtest, annotated with dotted arrows implying the movements participants would make with their stylus to move off the start position, between target locations and to reach the finish position. On the 4th panel further annotations indicate the locations in which targets sequentially appeared, with numbers indicating the sequence in which they were cued. (c) Left is a schematic depicting tracing path A and right is a schematic depicting tracing path B. The black shaky lines are an example of the ‘ink trails’ a participant would produce with their stylus in the course of tracing.

Mentions: This sub-test comprised of two trials. In the first, participants began by placing the stylus tip on a static dot (10 mm diameter) presented in the centre of the tablet's screen. After a second's delay the dot moved across the screen and participants were instructed to keep the tip of the stylus as close as possible to the dot's centre for the remainder of the trial. The motion was described by two oscillating sinusoidal waveforms in the axes of the screen. The frequencies and amplitudes of these waveforms were in a 2∶1 ratio, resulting in a repeating ‘figure-8’ spatial pattern (see Figure 1) with height  = 55 mm and width  = 110 mm. The trial required participants to track the moving dot for 84 seconds through a total of nine ‘figure-8’ revolutions comprising a ‘slow’ pace for the first three revolutions, transitioning to a ‘medium’ pace on the fourth revolution before transitioning to a ‘fast’ pace for the final three revolutions (i.e. a trio of revolutions at each successive speed). The frequencies specified for the waveforms in order to produce the three speeds and the resultant velocities of the dot are reported in Table 2. The second Tracking trial was identical to the first but the spatial path followed by the dot was provided in the background of the screen as a black 3 mm wide ‘guide’ line. This guide was expected to aid participants by providing additional information about the dot's path. See Figure 1a for illustrations of both trials. Root mean square error (RMSE), a measure of the spatio-temporal accuracy of participants' tracking, provided an index of performance on the tracking task. RMSE was calculated as the straight-line distance in millimetres between the centre of the moving target and the tip of the stylus for each sampled point during the time-series. For each Tracking trial (i.e. without and with guide-line) a mean value for RMSE with respect to each speed condition (i.e. a slow, medium and fast measure per trial) was calculated and statistically analysed.


Manual control age and sex differences in 4 to 11 year old children.

Flatters I, Hill LJ, Williams JH, Barber SE, Mon-Williams M - PLoS ONE (2014)

Illustrations of the three manual control battery tasks: (a) Tracking, (b) Aiming and (c) Tracing.(a) Left is a schematic of first Tracking trial (i.e. without ‘Guideline’), annotated with a dotted line to indicate the trajectory of the moving dot. Right is a schematic of the second Tracking trial, which included the additional Guideline. (b) Schematic of the Aiming subtest, annotated with dotted arrows implying the movements participants would make with their stylus to move off the start position, between target locations and to reach the finish position. On the 4th panel further annotations indicate the locations in which targets sequentially appeared, with numbers indicating the sequence in which they were cued. (c) Left is a schematic depicting tracing path A and right is a schematic depicting tracing path B. The black shaky lines are an example of the ‘ink trails’ a participant would produce with their stylus in the course of tracing.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3921207&req=5

pone-0088692-g001: Illustrations of the three manual control battery tasks: (a) Tracking, (b) Aiming and (c) Tracing.(a) Left is a schematic of first Tracking trial (i.e. without ‘Guideline’), annotated with a dotted line to indicate the trajectory of the moving dot. Right is a schematic of the second Tracking trial, which included the additional Guideline. (b) Schematic of the Aiming subtest, annotated with dotted arrows implying the movements participants would make with their stylus to move off the start position, between target locations and to reach the finish position. On the 4th panel further annotations indicate the locations in which targets sequentially appeared, with numbers indicating the sequence in which they were cued. (c) Left is a schematic depicting tracing path A and right is a schematic depicting tracing path B. The black shaky lines are an example of the ‘ink trails’ a participant would produce with their stylus in the course of tracing.
Mentions: This sub-test comprised of two trials. In the first, participants began by placing the stylus tip on a static dot (10 mm diameter) presented in the centre of the tablet's screen. After a second's delay the dot moved across the screen and participants were instructed to keep the tip of the stylus as close as possible to the dot's centre for the remainder of the trial. The motion was described by two oscillating sinusoidal waveforms in the axes of the screen. The frequencies and amplitudes of these waveforms were in a 2∶1 ratio, resulting in a repeating ‘figure-8’ spatial pattern (see Figure 1) with height  = 55 mm and width  = 110 mm. The trial required participants to track the moving dot for 84 seconds through a total of nine ‘figure-8’ revolutions comprising a ‘slow’ pace for the first three revolutions, transitioning to a ‘medium’ pace on the fourth revolution before transitioning to a ‘fast’ pace for the final three revolutions (i.e. a trio of revolutions at each successive speed). The frequencies specified for the waveforms in order to produce the three speeds and the resultant velocities of the dot are reported in Table 2. The second Tracking trial was identical to the first but the spatial path followed by the dot was provided in the background of the screen as a black 3 mm wide ‘guide’ line. This guide was expected to aid participants by providing additional information about the dot's path. See Figure 1a for illustrations of both trials. Root mean square error (RMSE), a measure of the spatio-temporal accuracy of participants' tracking, provided an index of performance on the tracking task. RMSE was calculated as the straight-line distance in millimetres between the centre of the moving target and the tip of the stylus for each sampled point during the time-series. For each Tracking trial (i.e. without and with guide-line) a mean value for RMSE with respect to each speed condition (i.e. a slow, medium and fast measure per trial) was calculated and statistically analysed.

Bottom Line: A small but reliable sex difference was found in tracing skill, with girls showing a slightly higher level of performance than boys irrespective of age.Overall, the findings suggest that prepubescent girls are more likely to have superior manual control abilities for performing novel tasks.However, these small population differences do not suggest that the sexes require different educational support whilst developing their manual skills.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom.

ABSTRACT
To what degree does being male or female influence the development of manual skills in pre-pubescent children? This question is important because of the emphasis placed on developing important new manual skills during this period of a child's education (e.g. writing, drawing, using computers). We investigated age and sex-differences in the ability of 422 children to control a handheld stylus. A task battery deployed using tablet PC technology presented interactive visual targets on a computer screen whilst simultaneously recording participant's objective kinematic responses, via their interactions with the on-screen stimuli using the handheld stylus. The battery required children use the stylus to: (i) make a series of aiming movements, (ii) trace a series of abstract shapes and (iii) track a moving object. The tasks were not familiar to the children, allowing measurement of a general ability that might be meaningfully labelled 'manual control', whilst minimising culturally determined differences in experience (as much as possible). A reliable interaction between sex and age was found on the aiming task, with girls' movement times being faster than boys in younger age groups (e.g. 4-5 years) but with this pattern reversing in older children (10-11 years). The improved performance in older boys on the aiming task is consistent with prior evidence of a male advantage for gross-motor aiming tasks, which begins to emerge during adolescence. A small but reliable sex difference was found in tracing skill, with girls showing a slightly higher level of performance than boys irrespective of age. There were no reliable sex differences between boys and girls on the tracking task. Overall, the findings suggest that prepubescent girls are more likely to have superior manual control abilities for performing novel tasks. However, these small population differences do not suggest that the sexes require different educational support whilst developing their manual skills.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus