Children from 8 to 12 years of age drew figure-eights and ellipses at a self-chosen tempo on a digitizing tablet. Global aspects (perimeter and average speed) and local aspects (relation between instantaneous speed and curvature) of performance were analyzed across age groups and types of figures. We tested the predictions of the transformation model, which is based on the hypothesis that changing the intended direction of movement is a time-consuming process that affects the evolution in time of the movement trajectory, and compared how well it fitted the data relative to the power law. We found that the relation between speed and curvature was typically better described by the transformation model than by the power law. However, the power law provided a better description when ellipses were drawn at a fast speed. The analyses of the parameters of the transformation model indicate that processing speed increased linearly with age. In addition, the results suggest that the effects of the spring-like properties of the arm were noticeable when ellipses were drawn at a fast speed. This study indicates that both biomechanical properties and central processes have an effect on the kinematics of continuous movements and particularly on the relation between speed and curvature. However, their relative importance varies with the type of figure and average movement speed. In conclusion, the results support the hypothesis that a time-consuming process of transformation of the intended direction of movement is operating during the production of continuous movements and that this process increases in speed between 8 to 12 years of age.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by a VA Merit grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Mental rotation