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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

Bar-chart of reciprocal root mean square error (RMSE) by Age-Group, Trial-Type and Speed.Reciprocal RMSE (mm−1) is a measure of average spatial accuracy across time whilst manually tracking. Presentation of a guideline underneath the tracked target significantly improved performance on this outcome but this advantage was moderated by both age (larger benefit in older age groups) and speed (larger advantage at slower speeds), resulting in a statistically significant 3-way interaction between these factors (p<.001). There were no main effects or interactions involving Sex on this outcomes Note: Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
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pone-0088692-g002: Bar-chart of reciprocal root mean square error (RMSE) by Age-Group, Trial-Type and Speed.Reciprocal RMSE (mm−1) is a measure of average spatial accuracy across time whilst manually tracking. Presentation of a guideline underneath the tracked target significantly improved performance on this outcome but this advantage was moderated by both age (larger benefit in older age groups) and speed (larger advantage at slower speeds), resulting in a statistically significant 3-way interaction between these factors (p<.001). There were no main effects or interactions involving Sex on this outcomes Note: Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.

Mentions: For two participants a recording error on this subtest meant their response had to be excluded from this portion of the analyses (leaving n = 420). MLM analysis of the reciprocal RMSE outcome found that the following 3-way interaction was significant: Age Band × Speed × Trial Type, (χ2(6) = 86.24; p<.001), depicted in Figure 2. All main effects and two-way interactions which involved only these three factors were also significant (p<.001). Meanwhile, the 4-way interaction that also included sex was non-significant (χ2(8) = 10.21; p = .251). No 3- or 2-way interactions involving Sex as a factor, or the main effect of Sex, were significant (all p>.499).


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)

Bar-chart of reciprocal root mean square error (RMSE) by Age-Group, Trial-Type and Speed.Reciprocal RMSE (mm−1) is a measure of average spatial accuracy across time whilst manually tracking. Presentation of a guideline underneath the tracked target significantly improved performance on this outcome but this advantage was moderated by both age (larger benefit in older age groups) and speed (larger advantage at slower speeds), resulting in a statistically significant 3-way interaction between these factors (p<.001). There were no main effects or interactions involving Sex on this outcomes Note: Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0088692-g002: Bar-chart of reciprocal root mean square error (RMSE) by Age-Group, Trial-Type and Speed.Reciprocal RMSE (mm−1) is a measure of average spatial accuracy across time whilst manually tracking. Presentation of a guideline underneath the tracked target significantly improved performance on this outcome but this advantage was moderated by both age (larger benefit in older age groups) and speed (larger advantage at slower speeds), resulting in a statistically significant 3-way interaction between these factors (p<.001). There were no main effects or interactions involving Sex on this outcomes Note: Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
Mentions: For two participants a recording error on this subtest meant their response had to be excluded from this portion of the analyses (leaving n = 420). MLM analysis of the reciprocal RMSE outcome found that the following 3-way interaction was significant: Age Band × Speed × Trial Type, (χ2(6) = 86.24; p<.001), depicted in Figure 2. All main effects and two-way interactions which involved only these three factors were also significant (p<.001). Meanwhile, the 4-way interaction that also included sex was non-significant (χ2(8) = 10.21; p = .251). No 3- or 2-way interactions involving Sex as a factor, or the main effect of Sex, were significant (all p>.499).

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