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David I. Anderson, Audun Dahl, Joseph J. Campos, Kiren Chand, Minxuan He and Ichiro Uchiyama

This report describes a novel test of the prediction that locomotion-induced changes in an infant’s functional utilization of peripheral lamellar optic flow (PLOF) for postural stability contributes to avoidance of the deep side of a visual cliff. To test the prediction, a corridor, with either low-textured or high-textured walls, was constructed to run the length of a visual cliff. The infants, 9.5-month-olds with varying amounts of hands-and-knees crawling experience, were randomly assigned to the low-texture (n = 30) or the high-texture condition (n = 32). Consistent with predictions, the findings revealed significant interactions between crawling experience and texture condition for the probability of crossing and the latency to venture onto the deep side of the cliff. Most notably, more experienced crawlers, but not less experienced crawlers, were significantly more likely to cross the visual cliff to the parents and ventured onto the cliff faster in the high-texture condition than in the low-texture condition. The availability of PLOF thus had an effect on infants’ crossing behavior on the visual cliff. We interpret these findings as evidence for a three-step process in which locomotor-induced changes in visual proprioception play a central role in the development of wariness of heights.

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Amelia Mays Woods, Kim Graber and David Daum

The benefits of recess can be reaped by all students regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or gender and at relatively little cost. The purpose of this study was to examine physical activity (PA) variables related to the recess PA patterns of third and fourth grade children and the social preferences and individuals influencing their PA (friends and parents). Data were collected on students (N = 115) utilizing the System of Observing Children’s Activity and Relationships during Play (SOCARP) instrument. In addition, each child was interviewed during the recess period in which SOCARP was completed. Results found that boys spent significantly more time being very active (t (95.64) = 3.252, d = .62, p < .008) than girls and preferred sport activities (t = (73.62) 5.64, d = 1.14, p < .0125) in large groups (t (69.34) = 4.036, d = .83, p < .0125). Meanwhile, girls preferred locomotor activities (t (113) = 3.19, d = .60, p < .0125), sedentary activities (t (113) = 2.829, d = .53, p < .0125) and smaller groups (t (112.63) = 4.259, d = .79, p < .0125). All 115 participants indicated that they wanted to spend time with their friends during recess.

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Emily Cole, Terry M. Wood and John M. Dunn

Tests constructed using item response theory (IRT) produce invariant item and test parameters, making it possible to construct tests and test items useful over many populations. This paper heuristically and empirically compares the utility of classical test theory (CTT) and IRT using psychomotor skill data. Data from the Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD) (Ulrich, 1985) were used to assess the feasibility of fitting existing IRT models to dichotomously scored psychomotor skill data. As expected, CTT and IRT analyses yielded parallel interpretations of item and subtest difficulty and discrimination. However, IRT provided significant additional analysis of the error associated with estimating examinee ability. The IRT two-parameter logistic model provided a superior model fit to the one-parameter logistic model. Although both TGMD subtests estimated ability for examinees of low to average ability, the object control subtest estimated examinee ability more precisely at higher difficulty levels than the locomotor subtest. The results suggest that IRT is particularly well suited to construct tests that can meet the challenging measurement demands of adapted physical education.

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Jebb G. Remelius, Joseph Hamill, Jane Kent-Braun and Richard E.A. Van Emmerik

Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) often have poor balance control that is especially apparent during dynamic tasks such as gait initiation (GI). The purpose of this study was to investigate how balance symptoms due to MS alter spatiotemporal variables, coordination, and temporal margins within the stability boundary during gait initiation. Twelve women with MS (Expanded Disability Status Scale [EDSS] mean = 4.0, SD = 1.4) and 12 women without MS (control group) initiated gait at their preferred speed. MS participants attained a slower anterior velocity because of smaller anterior center of mass displacements and took longer to complete the initiation of gait than the control group. MS participants exhibited a smaller posterior shift in center of pressure during GI and stepped with a longer dual support time than the control group. However, these changes may be due to differences in initiation velocity. Relative timing analysis showed invariance in postural and locomotor phases of gait initiation between groups. The MS group showed different coordination between anterior-posterior and medio-lateral center of pressure components while increasing temporal margins to the posterior and lateral stability boundaries in comparison with the control group. Overall, during gait initiation at their preferred speed the MS participants adopted a functional strategy that produces lower speed and reduced proximity to the stability boundaries prior to stepping.

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Moeko Ueno, Ichiro Uchiyama, Joseph J. Campos, David I. Anderson, Minxuan He and Audun Dahl

Infants show a dramatic shift in postural and emotional responsiveness to peripheral lamellar optic flow (PLOF) following crawling onset. The present study used a novel virtual moving room to assess postural compensation of the shoulders backward and upward and heart rate acceleration to PLOF specifying a sudden horizontal forward translation and a sudden descent down a steep slope in an infinitely long virtual tunnel. No motion control conditions were also included. Participants were 53 8.5-month-old infants: 25 prelocomotors and 28 hands-and-knees crawlers. The primary findings were that crawling infants showed directionally appropriate postural compensation in the two tunnel motion conditions, whereas prelocomotor infants were minimally responsive in both conditions. Similarly, prelocomotor infants showed nonsignificant changes in heart rate acceleration in the tunnel motion conditions, whereas crawling infants showed significantly higher heart rate acceleration in the descent condition than in the descent control condition, and in the descent condition than in the horizontal translation condition. These findings highlight the important role played by locomotor experience in the development of the visual control of posture and in emotional reactions to a sudden optically specified drop. The virtual moving room is a promising paradigm for exploring the development of perception–action coupling.

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Gisela Kobberling, Louis W. Jankowski and Luc Leger

The oxygen consumption (VO2) of 30 (10 females, 20 males) legally blind adolescents and their sighted controls were compared for treadmill walking (3 mph, 4.8 km/h) and running (6 mph, 9.6 km/h). The VO2 of the visually impaired subjects averaged 24.4% and 10.8% higher than those of their same-sex age-matched controls, and 42.8% and 11.2% higher than the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) norms for walking (p<.01) and running (p<.05), respectively. The normal association between aerobic capacity and locomotor energy costs was evident among the sighted controls (r= .44, p<.05) but insignificant (r=.35, p>.05) for the visually impaired subjects. The energy costs of both walking and running were highest among the totally blind subjects, and decreased toward normal as a function of residual vision among the legally blind subjects. The energy costs of walking and running for blind adolescents are higher than both those of sighted controls and the ACSM norm values.

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Gail M. Dummer, John L. Haubenstricker and David A. Stewart

The Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD) was used to assess the fundamental motor skills of 91 girls and 110 boys aged 4 to 18 years who attended two schools for students who are deaf. Average hearing loss, determined by better ear average, was 96.94 dB (SD = 14.40 dB). Modifications to the procedures for administering the TGMD included visual demonstrations and the use of signing to communicate instructions. The raw score means of subjects aged 4–10 years who were deaf were lower than those of the TGMD standardization sample of same-aged children who could hear at six of seven age levels on both the object-control and locomotor subscales. However, there were relatively small differences in the mean scores of the two groups. Subjects with mature movement patterns for the throw, kick, jump, and run performed better on quantitative tests for those skills than subjects with immature patterns. Typical age and gender patterns of skill acquisition were revealed for both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the fundamental motor skills examined.

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Désirée B. Maltais, Claire Gane, Sophie-Krystale Dufour, Dominik Wyss, Laurent J. Bouyer, Bradford J. McFadyen, Karl Zabjek, Jan Andrysek and Julien I.A. Voisin

Little is known about the effects of acute exercise on the cognitive functioning of children with cerebral palsy (CP). Selected cognitive functions were thus measured using a pediatric version of the Stroop test before and after maximal, locomotor based aerobic exercise in 16 independently ambulatory children (8 children with CP), 6–15 years old. Intense exercise had: 1) a significant, large, positive effect on reaction time (RT) for the CP group (preexercise: 892 ± 56.5 ms vs. postexercise: 798 ± 45.6 ms, p < .002, d = 1.87) with a trend for a similar but smaller response for the typically developing (TD) group (preexercise: 855 ± 56.5 ms vs. postexercise: 822 ± 45.6 ms, p < .08, d = 0.59), and 2) a significant, medium, negative effect on the interference effect for the CP group (preexercise: 4.5 ± 2.5%RT vs. postexercise: 13 ± 2.9%RT, p < .04, d = 0.77) with no significant effect for the TD group (preexercise: 7.2 ± 2.5%RT vs. postexercise: 6.9 ± 2.9%RT, p > .4, d = 0.03). Response accuracy was high in both groups pre- and postexercise (>96%). In conclusion, intense exercise impacts cognitive functioning in children with CP, both by increasing processing speed and decreasing executive function.

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Joseph F. Seay, Jeffery M. Haddad, Richard E.A. van Emmerik and Joseph Hamill

Increases in movement variability have previously been observed to be a hallmark property of cooraination changes between coupled oscillators that occur as movement frequency is scaled. Prior research on the walk-run transition in human locomotion has also demonstrated increases in variability around the transition region, supporting predictions of nonequilibrium phase transitions (Diedrich & Warren, 1995). The current study examined the coordinative patterns of both intra- and inter-limb couplings around the walk-run transition using two different temporal manipulations of locomotor velocity as a control parameter in healthy young participants (N = 11). Coordination variability did not increase before the transition. The nature of the change in continuous relative phase variability between gait modes was coupling-specific, and varying the time spent at each velocity did not have an overall effect on gait transition dynamics. Lower extremity inter-limb coordination dynamics were more sensitive to changes in treadmill velocity than intra-limb coordination. The results demonstrate the complexity of segmental coordination change in human locomotion, and question the applicability of dynamical bimanual coordination models to human gait transitions.

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Anthony D. Okely, Michael L. Booth and John W. Patterson

This study investigated a possible relationship between cardiorespiratory endurance and fundamental movement skill proficiency among adolescents. Locomotor (run and jump) and object-control (catch, throw, kick, and strike) skills and cardiorespiratory endurance, indirectly measured using the Multistage Fitness Test (MFT) or PACER, were assessed in 2,026 boys and girls in Grade 8 (mean age = 13.3 years) and Grade 10 (mean age = 15.3 years), who were part of a randomly selected sample who agreed to participate in the New South Wales Schools Fitness and Physical Activity Survey, 1997. Boys had higher levels of cardiorespiratory endurance and were more competent than girls on 5 out of 6 skills. Grade 10 students were better on all skills and were aerobically fitter than Grade 8 students. All six skills and a skills index were related to the number of laps completed on the MFT. The six skills explained 20% and 26% of the variance in the number of laps completed on the MFT for Grade 8 and Grade 10 girls, respectively, and 12% and 17% for Grade 8 and Grade 10 boys, respectively. This finding can be interpreted as evidence of a relationship between cardiorespiratory endurance and fundamental movement skills among adolescents. Further studies are recommended to determine if improved movement skills in adolescents can promote cardiorespiratory endurance.