Identifying patterns of motor performance, executive functioning, and verbal ability in preschool children: A latent profile analysis

Houwen, S., Kamphorst, E., van der Veer, G. & Cantell, M., Jan-2019, In : Research in Developmental Disabilities. 84, p. 3-15 13 p.

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  • Identifying patterns of motor performance, executive functioning

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BACKGROUND: A relationship between motor performance and cognitive functioning is increasingly being recognized. Yet, little is known about the precise nature of the relationship between both domains, especially in early childhood.

AIMS: To identify distinct constellations of motor performance, executive functioning (EF), and verbal ability in preschool aged children; and to explore how individual and contextual variables are related to profile membership.

METHODS AND PROCEDURES: The sample consisted of 119 3- to 4-year old children (62 boys; 52%). The home based assessments consisted of a standardized motor test (Movement Assessment Battery for Children - 2), five performance-based EF tasks measuring inhibition and working memory, and the Receptive Vocabulary subtest from the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence Third Edition. Parents filled out the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function - Preschool version. Latent profile analysis (LPA) was used to delineate profiles of motor performance, EF, and verbal ability. Chi-square statistics and multinomial logistic regression analysis were used to examine whether profile membership was predicted by age, gender, risk of motor coordination difficulties, ADHD symptomatology, language problems, and socioeconomic status (SES).

OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: LPA yielded three profiles with qualitatively distinct response patterns of motor performance, EF, and verbal ability. Quantitatively, the profiles showed most pronounced differences with regard to parent ratings and performance-based tests of EF, as well as verbal ability. Risk of motor coordination difficulties and ADHD symptomatology were associated with profile membership, whereas age, gender, language problems, and SES were not.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Our results indicate that there are distinct subpopulations of children who show differential relations with regard to motor performance, EF, and verbal ability. The fact that we found both quantitative as well as qualitative differences between the three patterns of profiles underscores the need for a person-centered approach with a focus on patterns of individual characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Early online date1-May-2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2019



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