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Good motor skills may enhance reading skills in obese children 

March 20, 2018

University of Eastern Finland


Excess body weight has been linked to poor academic performance in children in several previous studies. A new study now shows that a high body fat percentage is associated with poor reading skills in 6- to 8-year-old boys. However, these associations are largely explained by poor motor skills.

The effectiveness of a fundamental motor skill intervention in pre-schoolers with motor problems depends on gender but not environmental context

Farid Bardid a,1,*, Frederik J.A. Deconinck a,b,1, Sofie Descamps a, Liesbeth Verhoeven c, Greet De Pooter c, Matthieu Lenoir a, Eva D’Hondt a,d a Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium b School of Healthcare Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK c Department of Teacher Education, Karel de Grote Hogeschool, Belgium d Faculty of Physical Education, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium 

How Are Motor Skills Linked to Children’s School

Performance and Academic Achievement?

Claire E. Cameron,1 Elizabeth A. Cottone,2 William M. Murrah,2 and David W. Grissmer2


1State University of New York at Buffalo, and 2University of Virginia

© 2016 The Authors

Child Development Perspectives © 2016 The Society for Research in Child Development

DOI: 10.1111/cdep.12168ABSTRACT—Children need a range of skills to transition

successfully to formal schooling. In early childhood classrooms,

children must master their fine and gross motor

skills. In this article, we review the evidence that links

motor skills to diverse school outcomes, then describe

three sets of cognitive processes—motor coordination,

executive function, and visuospatial skills—that are

tapped by motor assessments. We then use these processes

to explain how motor skills are implicated in children’s

self-regulation and their emergent literacy and numeracy.

We conclude by encouraging theoretical and methodological

approaches to clarify the mechanisms that implicate

motor skills in school performance and achievement.

Impact of a multicomponent physical activity intervention on

cognitive performance: The MOVI‐KIDS study

Received: 9 April 2018 | Revised: 13 November 2018 | Accepted: 4 January 20191Social and Health Care Research

Center, Universidad de Castilla‐La Mancha,

Cuenca, Spain

2Faculty of Education, Universidad de

Castilla‐La Mancha, Ciudad Real, Spain

3Faculty of Nursing, Universidad de

Castilla‐La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain

4Faculty of Education, Universidad de

Castilla‐La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain

5Facultad de Ciencias de la

Salud, Universidad Aut.noma de Chile,

Santiago, ChileIntroduction: This study examined the impact of a multicomponent physical activity

(PA) intervention (MOVI‐KIDS) on improving cognition in schoolchildren. This

paper also analyzed the mediator role of motor fitness between MOVI‐KIDS and


Methods: Propensity score analysis of data from a cluster randomized controlled

trial (MOVI‐KIDS study). This analysis including 240 5‐7 years old children from

nine schools in the provinces of Cuenca and Ciudad Real, Spain. MOVI‐KIDS program

consisted of: (a) three weekly after‐school sessions of recreational non‐competitive

PA lasting 60 minutes during one academic year, (b) educational materials

for parents and teachers, and (c) school playground modifications. Changes in cognition

(logical reasoning, verbal factor, numerical factor, spatial factor, and general

intelligence) were measured. A propensity score cross‐cluster matching procedure

and mediation analysis (Hayes’s PROCESS macro) were conducted.

Results: All cognitive variables pre‐post mean changes were significantly higher

(P ≤ 0.05) in children from intervention schools than those from control schools (effect

size ranged from 0.33 to 1.48). The effect of the intervention on the spatial factor

and general intelligence was partially mediated by motor fitness (indirect effect

= 0.92, 95% CI: 0.36; 1.65; and indirect effect = 1.21, 95% CI: 0.06; 2.62,


Conclusions: This study shows that a one‐school‐year multicomponent intervention

consisting of a recreational non‐competitive PA program, educational materials for

parents and teachers, and school playground modifications improved the cognition

of first‐grade children. Further, our results suggest that the effect of the intervention

on cognition was mediated by changes in motor fitness.

Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs•

Volume 5•

Number 3•

2005 101–111

doi: 10.1111/J.1471-3802.2005.00049.x

Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.

The effects of the Primary Movement programme

on the academic performance of children attending

ordinary primary school

Julie-Anne Jordan-Black

Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland


The present study investigated the prevalence of a

primary reflex (the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex)

in children attending ordinary primary school and

how this related to attainments in a number of

academic areas. The effectiveness of a specific

movement intervention programme in reducing

primary reflex persistence and improving academic

attainment was also evaluated.

A comparative study of the progress of 683 children

over a two-year period from Years 3 and 5, who

completed an intervention programme known as

Primary Movement, was carried out using the

relative attainments of children at the same schools

and standardised scores as baseline and follow-up

measures. A second, quasi-experimental study

followed the progress of four parallel groups in each

of two large schools with the experimental side

completing the movement intervention programme

while the other side acted as the control.

It was found that ATNR persistence was significantly

associated with level of attainments in reading,

spelling and mathematics and that boys were more

at risk than girls for ATNR persistence. In both

studies, it was found that the movement intervention

programme had a very significant impact on

reducing the levels of ATNR persistence in children

and that this was associated with very significant

improvements in reading and mathematics, in


This research provides further evidence of a link

between the attainment of core educational skills

and the interference that may result from an

underlying developmental deficit. The effectiveness

of the intervention programme in reducing ATNR

persistence and in increasing academic attainments

suggests that this programme could be used to

complement other strategies that have been shown

to have a positive effect on children’s learning.

Movement and Cognition

The relationship between gross motor skills, executive functioning, and academic achievement in children with learning disorders (2014)

Marieke Westendorp


Link naar dit proefschrift 

Individual differences in basic numerical skills:

The role of executive functions and motor skills

Venera Gashaj ⇑, Nicole Oberer, Fred W. Mast, Claudia M. Roebers

Department of Psychology, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland


Center for Cognition, Learning, and Memory, 3012 Bern, Switzerland

a b s t r a c t

The aim of the current study was to explore individual differences

in basic numerical skills in a normative sample of 151 kindergarteners

(mean age = 6.45 years). Whereas previous research

claims a substantial link between executive functions and basic

numerical skills, motor abilities have been put forward to explain

variance in numerical skills. Regarding the current study, these

two assumptions have been combined, revealing interesting

results. Namely, executive functions (inhibition, switching, and

visuospatial working memory) were found to relate to symbolic

numerical skills, and motor skills (gross and fine motor skills)

showed a significant correlation to nonsymbolic numerical skills.

Suggesting that motor skills and executive functions are associated

with basic numerical skills could lead to potential avenues for

interventions in certain disorders or disabilities such as nonverbal

learning disability, developmental dyscalculia, and developmental

coordination disorder.

Are effects of the symmetric and asymmetric tonic neck reflexes still visible in healthy adults?


S.M. Bruijna,b,∗, F. Massaada, M.J. MacLellanc, L. Van Gestela, Y.P. Ivanenkoc, J. Duysensa,d

a Motor Control Laboratory, Research Center for Movement Control and Neuroplasticity, Department of Kinesiology, K.U. Leuven, Belgiumb Department of Orthopedics, First Affiliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, Fujian, PR China

c Neuromotor Physiology Laboratory, Santa Lucia Foundation, Rome, Italy

d Department of Research, Development and Education, Sint Maartenskliniek, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Trunk rotation due to persistence of primitive reflexes in early school-age children

Ewa Z. GieysztorA–D,F, Ludwika SadowskaA,E,F, Anna M. ChoińskaA,E,F, Małgorzata Paprocka-BorowiczE,F

Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Wroclaw Medical University, Poland

Bewegend leren in de klas 

Marijke Mullender-Wijnsma, Esther Hartman, Marck de Greeff & Chris Visscher

Centrum voor Bewegingswetenschappen, UMCG/Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Simone Doolaard & Roel Bosker

GION/Onderwijskunde, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Al springend leren rekenen en spellen: het is een innovatieve manier van leren die het beeld van stilzittende kinderen in de klas doorbreekt. Fysiek actieve reken- en taallessen kunnen een effectieve manier zijn om schoolprestaties van kinderen te verbeteren. Bovendien dragen de lessen bij aan de dagelijkse hoeveelheid beweging die kinderen nodig hebben. 

Dynamic Sensory-Motor Adaptation
to Earth Gravity


Psychology of the Embrace: How Body Rhythms

Communicate the Need to Indulge or Separate

Sabine C. Koch 1,2,* ID and Helena Rautner 3

1 Research Institute for Creative Arts Therapies (RIArT), Alanus University Alfter, 53347 Alfter, Germany

2 Department of Therapy Sciences, SRH University Heidelberg, 69123 Heidelberg, Germany

3 Department of Psychology, University of Heidelberg, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany;

* Correspondence:; Tel.: +49-2222-9321-1803

Received: 26 August 2017; Accepted: 19 November 2017; Published: 29 November 2017

Abstract: In the context of embodiment research, there has been a growing interest in phenomena

of interpersonal resonance. Given that haptic communication is particularly under-researched,

we focused on the phenomenon of embracing. When we embrace a dear friend to say good-bye at

the end of a great evening, we typically first employ smooth and yielding movements with round

transitions between muscular tensing and relaxing (smooth, indulging rhythms), and when the embrace

is getting too long, we start to use slight patting (sharp, fighting rhythms with sharp transitions) on the

back or the shoulders of the partner in order to indicate that we now want to end the embrace.

The Moro reaction: More than a reflex, a ritualized behavior of nonverbal communication

Pierre V.RousseauabFlorenceMattonaRenaudLecuyeraWillyLahayea
Department of Family Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Education, University of Mons, Belgium
Department of Obstetrics, Tivoli University Hospital, La Louviere, Belgium

Received 16 December 2015, Revised 26 January 2017, Accepted 26 January 2017, Available online 20 February 2017



To propose a phylogenetic significance to the Moro reflex which remains unexplained since its publication in 1918 because both hands are free at the end of the gesture. 


Among the 75 videos of healthy term newborns we have filmed in a research project on antenatal education to parenthood, we describe a sequence that clearly showed the successive movements of the Moro reflex and we report the occurrence of this reflex in the videos that were recorded from Time 0 of birth defined as the moment that lies between the birth of the thorax and the pelvis of the infant.



This paper proposes for the first time a phylogenetic significance to the Moro reflex: a ritualized behavior of nonverbal communication. Professionals should avoid stimulating the newborns’ fear system by unnecessarily triggering Moro reflexes. Antenatal education should teach parents to respond to the Moro reflexes of their newborn infant by picking her up in their arms with mother talk.

Persistence of primitive reflexes and associated motor
problems in healthy preschool children

Ewa Z. Gieysztor1, Anna M. Choińska2, Małgorzata Paprocka-Borow

Rehabilitation Developmental Laboratory, Department of Physiotherapy,

Faculty of Health Sciences, Medical University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland

2 Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Medical University

of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland

Submitted: 14 September 2015

Accepted: 24 December 2015

A b s t r a c t

Introduction: Retained primitive reflexes can disturb natural development

and involve difficulties in social and educational children’s life. They can

also impact on psychomotor development. Mature responses in a child’s

psychomotor progress can only occur if the central nervous system itself

has reached maturity. The process consist the transition made from brain

stem reflex response to cortically controlled response. This study define the

occurrence of primitive reflexes in healthy 4–6 years old children and analyze

the impact of survived primitive reflexes on psychomotor development.

Material and methods: The study involved 35 participants aged 4–6 years

healthy preschool children. The study tools were: primitive reflexes tests by

Sally Goddard for children and Motor Proficiency – Test (MOT 4–6 test) in

18 tasks.

Results: Over a half (65%) preschool children had survived the primitive

reflexes on the residual level. Eleven percent of them had no retained primitive

reflexes. According to the psychomotor ability, 9% of the children were

in the category of “altered development”, 29% in “delayed development”,

59% in “normal” and 3% in “very good development”. The greater the severity

of the reflex, the motor efficiency was lower (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: It seems reasonable to introduce reflexes integration therapy

in children’s with low psychomotor skills. Primitive reflexes routinely tested,

can contribute to improved early psychomotor development in children with

needs, thus preventing many difficulties which children can encounter within

their social and school life.

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