Response Time Modulates the Relationship Between Implicit Learning and Motor Ability in Children With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Preliminary Study

in Motor Control

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Jin BoDepartment of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, USA

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Bo ShenDivision of Kinesiology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA

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Liangsan DongSchool of Physical Education, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China

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YanLi PangSchool of Physical Education, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China

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Yu XingSchool of Physical Education, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China

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Mingting ZhangSchool of Physical Education, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China

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Yuan XiangSchool of Physical Education, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China

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Patricia C. LasutschinkowDepartment of Psychology, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, USA

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Dan LiLinJie Autism Rehabilitation Center, Wuhan, China

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Difficulty with implicit learning plays an important role in the symptomology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, findings in motor learning are inconsistent. This study evaluated implicit sequence learning and its relationship with motor ability in children with and without ASD. We adopted a classic serial reaction time task with a retention task and three awareness tests. The Movement Assessment Battery for Children was administered to assess children’s motor ability. Significant learning differences between children with and without ASD were only found in retention but not immediately after the serial reaction time task. These findings suggest that the impaired implicit learning in ASD is characterized as impaired consolidation where the relatively permanent changes are missing. Exploratory moderation analyses revealed a significant relationship between implicit learning and motor ability for individuals with faster response time. We argue the importance of response speed for optimal learning and should be weighted more for future intervention in children with ASD.

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