Language skills and finger tapping: Identifying relationships between language skills and motor control in the non-impaired reader

Date of Completion

January 2006


Psychology, Cognitive




This dissertation builds on previous findings that non-dyslexic college students with poor phonological recoding ability (i.e. difficulty "sounding out" written words and nonwords) show a deficiency in manual motor coordination (Carello, LeVasseur, & Schmidt, 2002). In the present study, the control of manual finger tapping was examined in non-impaired college students whose language skills were characterized using measures of word recognition, naming speed, and phonological decoding skill.^ Two experiments were performed. In Experiment 1, subjects performed a number of finger tapping tasks in which task complexity was manipulated (e.g., the number of fingers and hands). In Experiment 2, participants performed fours tasks that differed on tapping pattern complexity (e.g., linear vs. alternating serial-order patterns).^ The results of Experiment 1 suggested each language measure was sensitive to certain task manipulations and was correlated with dependent measures that quantified similar information---viz. naming speed correlated with the time interval between sequences whereas phonological decoding skill correlated with the time between successive finger presses. The results of Experiment 2 indicated that slower naming speed correlated with poorer complex sequencing, poorer phonological decoding was associated with poorer simple sequencing and poorer word recognition correlated with poorer complex timing skill. To accommodate the results, a hierarchical model of motor control was proposed. Interpreting the findings with respect to this model suggested that the three language skills correlated with different levels of motor control. ^