The Concept of Atypical Brain Development in Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)—a New Look

Abstract

The concept of atypical brain development was introduced by Gilger and Kaplan in 2001 to describe developmental variation in brain functions and to account for the high degree of comorbidity among neurodevelopmental disorders. Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder affecting around 5–6 % of school-aged children. It is phenotypically heterogeneous, with up to 70 % of children meeting criteria for at least one other neurodevelopmental disorder. Recent genetic evidence has found that the same genes are implicated in various neurodevelopmental disorders, including DCD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder, and that these genes play a significant role in brain development. Imaging research has revealed that children with DCD display alterations in brain structure and function and that some of these alterations overlap with those that have been found children with ADHD, whereas others are unique to children who display DCD. Emerging genetic and imaging evidence supports the contention that DCD, which is associated with impairments in motor functioning, behavior, and other neuropsychological functions (e.g., visual perception, executive functioning), is due to atypical brain development. Future research is needed to help clarify the alterations in brain structure and function associated with this disorder and to examine etiological factors (e.g., genetics, teratogens, nutrition, very low birth weight) that place children at risk for DCD.

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Correspondence to Deborah Dewey.

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Deborah Dewey reports grants from Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Francois P. Bernier declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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Dewey, D., Bernier, F.P. The Concept of Atypical Brain Development in Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)—a New Look. Curr Dev Disord Rep 3, 161–169 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40474-016-0086-6

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Keywords

  • Atypical brain development
  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • DCD
  • Comorbidity
  • Genetics
  • Neuroimaging
  • Brain structure
  • Brain function