Effects of gender and age on motor exam in typically developing children

Jennifer C.Gidley Larson, Stewart H. Mostofsky, Melissa C. Goldberg, Laurie E. Cutting, Martha B. Denckla, E. Mark Mahone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Few studies have contrasted performance of typically developing boys and girls on standardized motor assessment. In the present study, developmental status of the motor system was assessed in 144 typically developing children (72 boys, 72 girls, ages 7-14), using the Physical and Neurological Examination for Subtle Signs (PANESS, Denckla, 1985). Four summary variables were examined: (1) Gaits and Stations, (2) Overflow, (3) Dysrythmia, and (4) Timed Movements. For most variables, gender differences were not significant; however significant gender effects were observed for some subtle signs (involuntary movements), gaits and stations, and timed patterned movements. In all instances, girls showed fewer subtle signs and were faster and more proficient than boys. Significant age-related changes were observed for some subtle signs (dysrythmia and overflow), and for timed movements. In contrast, by age 7, many of the skills assessed by the PANESS have reached "adult" level in typically developing children. Motor development appears to follow a different developmental course in girls than in boys; separate gender and age norms should be used in clinical assessment of motor function in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-562
Number of pages20
JournalDevelopmental Neuropsychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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