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Early locomotion and the development of spatial language: Evidence from young children with motor impairments

Abstract : Recent studies show that young children with type-2 spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) can succeed in spatial search tasks. Such results suggest that locomotor impairment may not be a risk factor responsible for a dramatic slowing down or deviation in the development of spatial cognition. The present experiment pursues this question in relation to spatial language to determine whether self-produced locomotion is a necessary prerequisite for the normal acquisition of spatial terms. It compares how two groups of young French children (mean age 33 months) comprehend and produce spatial markers: one group of 12 type-2 SMA children and a control group of 12 healthy children. The results show no significant difference between the two groups with one exception: SMA children displayed a better performance when producing markers for the relations in front of and behind. The performance of SMA children suggests that, despite their total deprivation of experience in locomotion, they have the capacity to acquire and to use rich spatial representations that are embodied in the semantics of natural languages.
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https://hal-normandie-univ.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02343872
Contributor : James Rivière <>
Submitted on : Sunday, November 3, 2019 - 4:19:39 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 11:50:21 AM

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James Rivière, Roger Lécuyer, Maya Hickmann. Early locomotion and the development of spatial language: Evidence from young children with motor impairments. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2009, 6 (5), pp.548-566. ⟨10.1080/17405620701345712⟩. ⟨hal-02343872⟩

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