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Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) affects around 6% of school children and is manifested in the form of difficulties in both fine and gross motor control, posture and balance. At present, relatively little is known about the underlying neural pathology of this condition.
As part of a collaboration with the The School of Sport, Exercise and Health; University of Western Australia (Dr Melissa Licari and Dr Jessica Reynolds), Dr Jac Billington has been investigating the neural aetiology of DCD using functional and structural MRI. This research has included projects on:
- Brain activations associated with motor overflow in DCD. Motor overflow is the tendency to exhibit movement in extraneous parts of the body not actively involved in the task, and is commonly observed in DCD. Our fMRI study indicated that children with DCD may rely more on somatosensory information during the execution of fine motor movements (Licari, Billington, Wann et al., 2015).
- Mirror neuron functioning in DCD. The Mirror Neuron System (MNS) consists of a fronto-parietal network of regions which are activated when viewing and imitating motor actions. It has recently been suggested that a deficit in the functioning of this system in children with DCD may underpin the motor difficulties observed in DCD. Our recent fMRI study has found that children with DCD under recruit a region of the inferior frontal gyrus during imitation (Reynolds, Licari, Billington et al. In Press).
- Structural abnormalities in DCD. Our most recent project has involved the use of resting state fMRI and Voxel Based Morphology to investigate anatomical differences in children with DCD compared to age matched controls.