Motor Predictors of Cognitive Function

Excerpt from G.K Murray, J. Veijola, K. Moilanen, J. Miettunen, D.C. Glahn, T.D. Cannon, P.B. Jones and M. Isohanni’s
“Infant motor development is associated with adult cognitive categorization in a longitudinal birth cohort study” (The Journal
of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(1): 25–9, January 2006)

Background: The relationship between
the age of reaching infant developmental
milestones and later intellectual function
within the normal population remains
unresolved. We hypothesized that the
age of learning to stand in infancy would
be associated with adult executive
function and that the association would
be apparent throughout the range of
abilities, rather than confined to
Methods: The Northern Finland 1966

Birth Cohort is based upon 12,058 live-
born children in a geographic and

temporally defined population.
Information on age at learning to stand
without support was obtained at one
year. At age 33–35 a random sample of
104 subjects underwent a
neuropsychological test battery including
tests of executive function (cognitive
categorisation), visuospatial memory,
verbal learning and visual object learning.

We investigated associations between
developmental data and adult
neuropsychological test scores.
Results: There was a significant linear
relationship between age of learning to
stand and adult categorisation: the earlier
the attainment of the milestone, the better
was the categorisation. No such
relationships were observed between infant
neurodevelopment and adult cognition in
other neuropsychological domains.
Conclusion: Even within the normal range of
development, early development in the
gross motor domain is associated with
better adult executive function (in tests of
categorisation). Investigation of the
determinants and sequelae of normal neural
development will facilitate research into a
variety of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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