A commonly used paradigm to study motor imagery is the hand laterality judgment task. The present study aimed to determine which strategies young children employ to successfully perform this task. Children of 5 to 8 years old (N = 92) judged laterality of back and palm view hand pictures in different rotation angles. Response accuracy and response duration were registered. Response durations of the trials with a correct judgment were fitted to a-priori defined predictive sinusoid models, representing different strategies to successfully perform the hand laterality judgment task. The first model predicted systematic changes in response duration as a function of rotation angle of the displayed hand. The second model predicted that response durations are affected by biomechanical constraints of hand rotation. If observed data could be best described by the first model, this would argue for a mental imagery strategy that does not involve motor processes to solve the task. The second model reflects a motor imagery strategy to solve the task. In line with previous research, we showed an age-related increase in response accuracy and decrease in response duration in children. Observed data for both back and palm view showed that motor imagery strategies were used to perform hand laterality judgments, but that not all the children use these strategies (appropriately) at all times. A direct comparison of response duration patterns across age sheds new light on age-related differences in the strategies employed to solve the task. Importantly, the employment of the motor imagery strategy for successful task performance did not change with age.
Spruijt, S., Jongsma, M. L. A., van der Kamp, J., & Steenbergen, B. (2015). Predictive models to determine imagery strategies employed by children to judge hand laterality. PLoS ONE, 10(e0126568). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0126568