Planning ahead through space and time: from neuropsychology to motor control


The executive functions have been studied separately in the fields of neuropsychology and of motor control. However, it is not clear whether across fields one is referring to similar cognitive functions. In the present study, we compared the performance scores obtained in a motor spatial-tapping task with those scores obtained in a battery of three neuropsychological tasks which assess respectively the executive functions of updating (N-back task), inhibiting (Go-noGo task) and switching (Letter-number task). Multiple regression analyses revealed significant and specific effects between the motor task and the classical neuropsychological tasks: the timing error measured at slow tempi in the tapping task predicted the scores observed in the updating task only; the spatial error at faster tempi predicted the scores obtained in the switching task only; the contact times at intermediate tempi predicted the scores obtained in the inhibiting task only. Hence, we introduce this easy-to-use non-verbal task as a novel paradigm to assess executive functioning.

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