Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 10, pp 2589–2601 | Cite as

Training children aged 5–10 years in compliance control: tracing smaller figures yields better learning not specific to the scale of drawn figures

  • Winona Snapp-Childs
  • Aaron J. Fath
  • Geoffrey P. BinghamEmail author
Research Article


Previously we developed a method that supports active movement generation to allow practice with improvement of good compliance control in tracing and drawing. We showed that the method allowed children with motor impairments to improve at a 3D tracing task to become as proficient as typically developing children and that the training improved 2D figure copying. In this study, we expanded the training protocol to include a wider variety of ages (5–10-year-olds) and we made the figures traced in training the same as in figure copying, but varied the scale of training and copying figures to assess the generality of learning. Forty-eight children were assigned to groups trained using large or small figures. All were tested before training with a tracing task and a copying task. Then, the children trained over five sessions in the tracing task with either small or large figures. Finally, the tracing and copying tasks were tested again following training. A mean speed measure was used to control for path length variations in the timed task. Performance on both tasks at both baseline and posttest varied as a function of the size of the figure and age. In addition, tracing performance also varied with the level of support. In particular, speeds were higher with more support, larger figures and older children. After training, performance improved. Speeds increased. In tracing, performance improved more for large figures traced by children who trained on large figures. In copying, however, performance only improved significantly for children who had trained on small figures and it improved equally for large and small figures. In conclusion, training by tracing smaller figures yielded better learning that was not, however, specific to the scale of drawn figures. Small figures exhibit greater mean curvature. We infer that it yielded better general improvement.


Manual control Compliance control Prospective control Motor development Specificity 



This work was supported by NICHD R01HD070832.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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