Investigation into the attention profile of boys with and without Developmental Coordination Disorder / by Laura Anne Sheehan.
Sheehan, Laura Anne
Master of Science
MetadataShow full item record
Attention problems have been identified as an associated problem in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), using the Child Behaviour Checklist, and the Covert Orienting of Visuospatial Attention Task. Their patterns indicate a deficit in the voluntary disengagement of attention, while reflexive orienting seems to be unaffected. Recently, attention has been investigated using the Attention Network Test (Fan, McCandliss, Sommer, Raz, & Posner, 2002) which measures the efficiency of orienting, alerting and executive control networks. As no research presently exists, the goal was to examine attention networks in boys with and without DCD using the Attention Network Test for Children (ANT-C; Rueda et al.,2004). Twenty-five boys between 7 and 10 years were recruited to participate in the study. Each participant was screened using the MABC, and then tested on the ANT-C. Fourteen boys with a mean age of 9 years comprised the DCD group (MABC percentile mean = 5.5), while eleven boys with a mean age of 8.6 years comprised the comparison group (MABC percentile mean = 51.1). A series of independent sample t-tests revealed the boys with DCD were not significantly different from the comparison group on the alerting (t([subscript]23)=-0.44, p=0.61, d=-0.18); orienting (f([subscript]23)= -1.39, p = 0.18, d= -0.55); or executive control (f([subscript]23)=-0.68, p=0.51, d=0.28) networks. In addition, the two groups were similar on error rates (t([subscript]23)=0.94, p=0.36) and overall reaction time (t([subscript]23)=0.61,p=0.55). In contrast, using bivariate correlations, relationships were found between the alerting network and both the orienting (r = 0.70, p = 0.02) and executive control (r = 0.64, p = 0.04) networks in the group without DCD. In the group with DCD, these relationships were not observed. The presence or lack of relationship between networks suggests the two groups use differing strategies to achieve similar efficiency scores. Based on the previous literature, which described attention difficulties in children with DCD, the results of the study were unexpected. High variability within and between each group, demonstrated by individual profiles and standard deviation, may have had a strong effect on the outcome of the inferential statistics. In addition, the validity of the ANT-C in regard to previous studies has also been questioned. It appears the ANT-C is not measuring the same aspects of attention that have been determined problematic in previous studies. Therefore, the attention profiles of boys with and without DCD remain similar on network efficiency, error rate and median reaction time, but may differ on the strategies used to achieve them.