Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) struggle to learn new motor skills, demonstrating more variable performance than typically developing (TD) children. The purpose of this study was to determine whether patterns of brain activity differed between children with and without DCD while performing a motor task.


Using functional MRI, we measured brain activation patterns in 7 children with DCD and 7 age-matched peers (aged 8–12 years) during a fine-motor, trail-tracing task.


Despite similar levels of behavioral motor performance, different patterns of brain activity were noted between the 2 groups. The group with DCD showed significantly more activation than control subjects in left inferior parietal lobule, right middle frontal gyrus, right supramarginal gyrus, right lingual gyrus, right parahippocampal gyrus, right posterior cingulate gyrus, right precentral gyrus, right superior temporal gyrus, and right cerebellar lobule VI. These results suggest that the group with DCD relied on visuospatial processing to complete the task. The TD group demonstrated significantly more activation than the group with DCD in left precuneus, left superior frontal gyrus, right superior temporal gyrus/insula, left inferior frontal gyrus, and left postcentral gyrus; these regions have been associated with spatial processing, motor control and learning, and error processing.


Children with DCD activate different brain regions from typical children when performing the same trail-tracing task. Despite the small sample size, our results contribute to a growing body of literature suggesting that children with DCD exhibit differences in neural networks and patterns of brain activation relative to same-age peers.

You do not currently have access to this content.