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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Functional connectivity in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder : an exploratory study Rinat, Shie


Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a child’s ability to learn motor skills and participate in self-care, educational, and leisure activities. The cause of DCD is unknown, but evidence suggests that children with DCD have atypical brain structure and function. Resting-state MRI assesses functional connectivity by identifying brain regions that have correlated activation during rest. As only a few studies have examined functional connectivity in this population, our objective was to compare whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity of children with DCD and typically-developing children, and examine the correlation of functional connectivity with behavioural measures of motor function and ADHD symptoms. Children 8-12 years old were classified as DCD if they scored ≤16th percentile on the Movement Assessment Battery for Children - 2nd edition (MABC-2) and scored in the suspected or indicative range on the DCD Questionnaire (N=35). The control group included children with a score ≥25th percentile on the MABC-2 (N=23). Children were excluded if they were born preterm (<38 weeks), were diagnosed with other conditions that could affect their motor proficiency, or had high levels of motion during scans. We used Independent Component Analysis (ICA) to identify resting-state networks. We compared functional connectivity between children with DCD and typically-developing children across 19 networks, controlling for age and sex. Using Pearson’s r, we examined the correlation of functional connectivity and behavioural measurements. Children with DCD demonstrate altered functional connectivity between the sensorimotor network and the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and the posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG) (p<0.0001). The functional connectivity between the sensorimotor network and the PCC (r=0.47, p<0.0001) and right precuneus (r=0.46, p=0.003) was positively correlated with motor function, regardless of diagnosis. Previous evidence suggests the PCC acts as a link between functionally distinct networks. Our results indicate that ineffective communication between the sensorimotor network and the PCC might play a role in inefficient motor learning seen in DCD. The pMTG acts as hub for action-related information and processing, and its involvement could explain some of the functional difficulties seen in DCD. This first-of-its-kind study increases our understanding of the neurological differences that characterize DCD.

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