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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Sarah Raz

Abstract

It has been documented that children who are born prematurely are at risk of experiencing motor skills deficits early in life; however, little is known about the relationships between early perinatal risk factors and later motor abilities. The current investigation attempted to gain better understanding regarding the influence of gestational age and sex on early motor development among a cohort of preschool-aged children born prior to 34 weeks gestation (N = 104). Additionally, relationships between motor performance and other abilities, namely cognitive and language, were examined. As hypothesized, degree of gestational immaturity was significantly associated with poorer performance on specific motor tasks. Additionally, a female advantage was found on select fine and gross motor tasks. Examination of associations between performances in different neuropsychological domains revealed that motor performance contributed to explained variance in cognitive and language outcome, above and beyond the variance accounted for by perinatal sociodemographic and medical risk factors. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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