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Jane E. Clark

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Jane E. Clark

How we understand the emergence and development of motor behavior and skillfulness has itself developed over the last 50 years. In reflecting on the history of motor development, it is important to recognize that these ‘reflections’ are much like the painter’s “pentimento.” That is, the ‘canvas’ we paint today of what our science was decades ago is actually a painting with many layers—each representing where our views have changed along the journey. I do not “repent” with these reflections, as suggested by the term, pentimento, but rather I seek to bring a developmental perspective to our scientific inquiries into motor development with an element of a revisionist’s approach. What were the key discoveries and the seminal papers that influenced our canvas of motor development that we view today? Almost three decades ago, we (Clark & Whitall, 1989) outlined an historical framework for the field of motor development. Today, we can look back at that framework and the ensuing science and consider where we have been and what we have learned and ask: What does the pentimento of our motor development canvas reveal?

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Jane E. Clark

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Jane E. Clark and Bradley D. Hatfield

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Patrick J. DiRocco, Jane E. Clark and Sally J. Phillips

The purpose of the study was to determine if mildly mentally retarded (MMR) children followed the same developmental sequence of coordination for the propulsive phase of the standing long jump as their nonhandicapped (NH) peers. Subjects for the study included 39 MMR and 90 NH children, ages 4-7 years. Each subject was filmed performing several standing long jumps. Jumping patterns were analyzed from the film records, and distance jumped also was determined from the film. Results indicated that the arm and leg patterns of coordination proposed for NH children by Clark and Phillips (1985) were comprehensive enough to include the MMR children. In spite of similar patterns of coordination, the age group means for the distance jumped by the MMR subjects were 2 to 3 years behind their NH peers. Two explanations are offered for this deficit in distance jumped: first, there may be differences in coordination between the arm and leg action, and second, there may be differences in control mechanisms.

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Jane E. Clark, Farid Bardid, Nancy Getchell, Leah E. Robinson, Nadja Schott and Jill Whitall

Motor development research has had a rich history over the 20th century with a wide array of scientists contributing to a broad and deep body of literature. Just like the process of development, progress within the field has been non-linear, with rapid periods of growth occurring after the publication of key research articles that changed how we conceptualized and explored motor development. These publications provided new ways to consider developmental issues and, as a result, ignited change in our theoretical and empirical approaches within the field of motor development and the broader field of developmental psychology. In this paper, we outline and discuss six pioneering studies that we consider significant in their impact and in the field’s evolution, in order of publication: Halverson, 1931; Wild, 1938; Gibson & Walk, 1960; Connolly, Brown, & Bassett, 1968; Thelen & Fisher, 1982; Thelen & Ulrich, 1991. We have limited this review to empirical papers only. Together, they offer insight into what motor development research is, where it came from, why it matters, and what it has achieved.

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Florian A. Kagerer, Jin Bo, Jose L. Contreras-Vidal and Jane E. Clark

Although one of the criteria for the diagnosis of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) suggests learning impairments, there is a lack of studies investigating motor adaptation in these children. This study examined the ability of 7 children with DCD to adapt to a novel visuomotor relationship by exposing them to a 45° visual feedback rotation while they performed a center-out drawing task, and compared their performance with that of 7 normally developing children. The results show that the children with DCD were less affected by the feedback distortion than the control children, and did not show aftereffects, suggesting they had a less well-defined internal model. A principal component analysis of the performance variables during early and late exposure showed that the variables accounting for most of the variance in the trajectories are different between the 2 groups, suggesting that underlying control processes might operate differently in the 2 groups of children.