EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 9-14
Differences in motor abilities of boys and girls aged 7 in relation to the
level of intellectual ability
Filip Sadri1• Milica Blagojevic1 • Ivo Sadri1
© The Author(s) 2016. This article is published with open access
physical abilities is associated with improvement of
Since previous studies suggest a relationship
brain tissue during aging, while also the functional
between motor and cognitive development in
aspects of a higher order, which are involved in the
children, a research was conducted in order to
control of cognition are improved (Gomez-Pinilla &
examine the differences in motor skills of children
2013). Cognitive behavioral model
with different levels of intellectual ability. In a
emphasizes the role of cognitive functioning that
sample of 88 respondents, boys and girls aged 7, an
contributes to the emergence of emotional and
assessment of motor skills was performed by using
behavioral disorders. Incorrect assessment of social
the battery of seven motor tests and assessment of
situations, the tendency self-underestimation,
intellectual abilities by using the test of Raven's
unreasonable sense of guilt for errors, are examples
Coloured Progressive Matrices. Respondents were
of dysfunctional cognitive processes. Cognitive
divided into three groups according to the results of
abilities are responsible for forecasting, planning,
the test. After analyzing the results of the research it
decision-making processes, as well as comparisons
was shown that there were no statistically significant
and information processing along with the use of
differences in the area of motor abilities of children
long-term memory in resolving problem situations.
of different intellectual levels, but there were
Motor skills play a key role in the functioning of
differences at the univariate level regarding the tests
the child regarding the social and emotional area
Hand Tapping and Seat-and-Reach.
(domain). Weaker motor coordination in children
can affect their feelings that they are less able than
Keywords Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices
their peers, but also affects their academic
Motor skills Intelligence Younger school age
achievements, and even the choice of recreational
activities. The relationship between motor skills and
social and emotional functioning is usually
considered indirect. In other words, poor motor
skills can lead to poor achievements in individual
Current theoretical approaches and empirical
and team sports, which can reduce the feeling of
findings from the research conducted over the last
competence in children and increase their anxiety
decade indicate that physical activity may contribute
and depression (Cummins et al., 2005). Children
to the improvement and preservation of cognitive
with poor motor coordination are less competent in
abilities during the human life. Improvement of
their ability to recognize emotions. Study by
Cummins and associates (2005) found that children
with motor coordination problems are less accurate
(correct) and slower in reacting to facial emotional
signs. Children with coordination disorder may be at
a disadvantage during the social process with their
peers, as they may have more difficulties in
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sport and
Physical Education
detecting emotional states of others and in use of this
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 9-14
information for their behavior in the social
V. Stojanović i M. Stojanović, 2006; M. Stojanović,
Rubin, M. V. Stojanović & Fratrić,
2006). The
motor testing of children systematically uses
Sport and physical activity are positively
appropriate measuring instruments, or tests, in order
correlated with children's physical and mental health
to quantify motor behavior. Differences in motor
(Strong et al.,
2005). However, the increased
behavior are attributed to differences in
participation of children in sport and other forms of
coordination, explosive strength, speed of alternative
physical activity also leads to improved cognitive
movements, balance and flexibility, exogenous
functioning of children, better information
factors, as well as the functioning of the CNS during
processing, development of memory, concentration,
the manifestation of certain abilities in motor
behavior. There is sufficient evidence on the
behavior. Even less mentally disabled persons are
relationship between physical activity and
significantly inferior in motor skills compared to the
improvement of cognitive skills and executive
standard population, where the level of motor
functioning and control. Executive functioning
behavior in less mentally disabled person falls
refers to the cognitive processes needed for target
3-4 years compared to the standard
oriented cognition and behaviors that develop
population of the same age
2000). The
through childhood and adolescence
connection between intellectual and motor
Hillman, Erickson, & Kramer,
2008; Hillman,
functioning was first detected and confirmed in
Pontifex, Raine, Castelli, Hall, & Kramer,
samples of persons who are mentally disabled (Bala,
Kamijo et al.,
2011). Most motor tasks require
Sabo, & Popović, 2005). Bearing in mind the results
precisely those processes, and many of them contain
of previous research, a research was conducted in
problematic component, for example, numerous
order to examine the differences in motor skills of
situations in the sports game, creating their own
children aged 7 depending on the level of cognitive
solutions to overcome the track with obstacles, etc.
The motor coordination tests also consist of a kind
of problem situations that need to be addressed
effectively (Dolenc, Pistotnik, & Pinter, 2002). In
addition, individuals who are physically more active
are able to process more information faster. These
Data were collected as part of the research project
data suggest that physical activity may contribute to
the improvement of cognitive skills, allows effective
“Anthropological status and physical activity of the
population of Vojvodina”, Faculty of Sport and
response to a given challenge with good results in
Physical Education in Novi Sad.
carrying out the task. New evidence shows that
physical exercise exerts its effects on cognition, by
The analysis was conducted on a sample of 88
influencing the molecular events related to the
students (43 boys and 45 girls) aged 7, from the
control of energy metabolism and synaptic plasticity,
cities across Vojvodina (Novi Sad, Bačka Palanka,
and their processes (Ang, Tai Lo, Seet, & Soong,
Sombor, Sremska Mitrovica and Zrenjanin) which
2010). An important initiator of the molecular
were included in the testing within the research
mechanism includes physical exercises because the
project “Anthropological status and physical activity
brain (CNS) is a derived neurotrophic factor, which
of the population of Vojvodina”. Testing of motor
acts within the interface between the metabolism and
abilities was performed on the basis of the reduced
plasticity. Recent studies show that exercise along
model designed by Kurelić et al.
(1975) with
with other aspects of lifestyle affects the molecular
motor tests.
basis of cognition (Baker, et al., 2010; Berchtold,
Motor tests that were applied in this study were:
Chinn, Chou, Kesslak, & Cotman, 2010; Gomez-
1) Obstacle course backwards test - coordination of
Pinilla & Hillman, 2013; Kamijo & Takeda, 2009).
body and reorganization of movement stereotypes;
In addition, selected dietary factors have similar
2) Hand tapping test - movement frequency; 3) Sit-
mechanisms as exercises and, in some cases, can
and-reach test - flexibility; 4) Standing broad jump
complement the effect of exercise. So, exercise and
test - explosive leg strength; 5) 20 meters run test -
diet are non-invasive and effective strategies of
running speed;
6) Trunk lifting test
- repetitive
combating neurological and cognitive disorders.
strength of the trunk and 7) Bent arm hang test -
In many studies the relations were found between
static strength of arms and shoulders.
mobility and intelligence
(Dolenc, Pistotnik, &
Pinter, 2002; Hariri et al., 2003; Planinšec, 2002; M.
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 9-14
To test the intelligence the Raven's Coloured
Progressive Matrices were used (Fajgelj, Bala, &
2007). Raven's Coloured Progressive
The results of testing by using the multivariate
Matrices are one of the most commonly-used tests
analysis of variance showed that at the level of the
for testing the intelligence of preschool and young
whole system of motor variables, there was no
school-age children in our country. Based on the
results achieved by the respondents during the test,
respondents with different levels of intellectual
they were divided into three groups: the first group
(F = 1.446; P = .138). However, at the
consisted of respondents whose result was located
univariate level, statistically significant differences
within the first quarter, the second group consisted
were obtained in two of the seven motor variables:
of respondents who achieved results in the second
Hand tapping and Sit-and-reach (Table 1). From the
and third quarters, and in the third group were
table we can conclude that the second group
classified respondents with the best results
(AVERAGE) achieved the best average values
fourth quarter). The first group contained
regarding the variable Hand tapping, while the third
respondents (from 55 to 81 of IQ), the second group
group achieved the best results regarding the
was made of 56 respondents (86 to 107 of IQ) and
variable seat-and-reach (ABOVE AVERAGE).
the third group was made of 21 respondents (109 of
IQ and more).To determine the quantitative
differences, univariate and multivariate analysis of
variance were applied.
Table 1. Results of MANOVA, ANOVA, and Post-hoc tests regarding the motor skills in all analyzed groups
Below average (a)
Average (b)
Above average (c)
mean ± SD
mean ± SD
mean ± SD
20m dash (0,1 s)
48.45 ± 5.126
48.18 ± 6.025
47.71 ± 4.417
Obstacle course backwards (0,1 s)
277.27 ± 140.895
241.04 ± 96.506
264.38 ± 114.381
Hand taping (n/15 s)
16.27 ± 3.690
19.25 ± 3.553a/b
18.19 ± 2.804
Seat-and-reach (cm)
37.00 ± 8.899
40.77 ± 8.093
45.19 ± 11.321a/c
Standing broad jump (cm)
121.82 ± 20.841
124.75 ± 21.277
122.90 ± 20.152
Bent arm hang (0,1 s)
155.18 ± 181.770
167.16 ± 120.181
185.48 ± 177.789
Trunk lifting (n/60 s)
28.64 ± 6.265
25.14 ± 10.147
26.52 ± 7.607
f - univariate f-test; p - significance of f-test; F - multivariate F-test; P - significance of F-test, a/b - significant Post-Hoc tests
(a vs b, if b is bolded means that b is better than a)
In order to identify groups between which there
are statistically significant differences in variables
Hand tapping and Seat and reach, LSD - Post Hoc
test was applied (Table 1). Statistically significant
This study was aimed at the investigation of the
differences were noticed between the first and
differences in motor skills of children aged 7, with
second group regarding the HAND TAPPING motor
different levels of intellectual ability.
test. The differences are in favor of the second group
By reviewing the results obtained, we can
(AVERAGE). When it comes to SEAT-AND-
conclude that there is no statistically significant
REACH motor test, statistically significant
difference in the general area ofmotor skills in
differences were observed between the first and the
children with different levels of intelligence. At the
third group, and the difference is in favor of a third
univariate level, however, there is a statistically
significant difference regarding the two variables:
Hand tapping and Sit-and-reach. Most authors agree
with the fact that there are general mechanisms that
are responsible for the speed of information flow,
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 9-14
and that the tasks with measuring the information
activities, and this relationship lasts a lifetime.
flow rate, even the easiest ones, are significantly
Acquisition of intellectual and motor abilities takes
positively correlated with general intelligence factor
place in a very similar way, i.e. similar mechanisms
(Vernon & Mori,
1992). It is concluded that
govern both types of abilities (Paz et al., 2004). In
complex motor tasks have a stronger relationship
addition to its well-established role in balance,
with cognitive abilities, i.e. their performance
coordination and other motor skills, the cerebellum
involves cognitive processes to a greater extent,
plays a prominent role in a number of cognitive and
while the process of performing a simple motor
emotional functions, and is also associated with the
tasks is at the lower, elementary level, where the
ability to learn complex motor tasks (Tiemeierisar.,
share of intellectual processes is minimized.
2010). Cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular
strength and power, and physical activity are
Van der Fels et al. (2015) have obtained different
associated with learning capability, which was
results regarding the relations between the basic
consistent with the hypothesis that physical activity
categories of motor and cognitive abilities, resulting
improves academic achievement. They concluded
in interesting conclusions: fine motor skills, bilateral
that physical activity and physical fitness, at best,
coordination of the body and movement
can contribute to improved academic achievements
performance in a given time interval showed the
(Dwyer et al.,
2001). Cognitive abilities include
strongest correlation with cognitive abilities. Fine
mental processing of information and include
motor skills involve those tasks that require fine
processes such as attention, perception, memory,
motor precision and integration; bilateral
reasoning and problem solving. These obtained
coordination of the body, includes the tasks of
results coincide with some previous research (M. V.
coordination of the whole body and require the
Stojanović & M. Stojanović,
2006). The highest
involvement of almost all body parts and bilateral
partial influence on intelligence was achieved by the
coordination of upper and lower extremities;
variable for assessing the frequency of movements,
movement performance in a given time interval
which is consistent with previous research by local
includes the tasks (coarse/fine motor skills or tasks
authors (M. V. Stojanović et al., 2006), who also
that involve object control) where the time needed
concluded that in preschool children intelligence has
by the child to perform a number of movements is
the greatest impact on the movements frequency
essential, and these tasks are often divided into
(hand tapping), because it is the ability that is under
repetitive movements and sequencing movements.
the direct influence of the mechanism for the
Repetitive movements are simple movements that
synergistic regulation and regulation of tone. In
are repeated as quickly as possible. Sequential
rapid execution of individual movements the
movements include alternating patterns of complex
mechanism of regulation of tone, whose main
movements executed as quickly as possible.
function is the activation of motor units, has a
However, balance, strength and agility are less
special role. In addition, the centers located in
associated with cognitive abilities. This can be
subcortical areas include regulatory mechanisms of
explained by the fact that the first group of motor
different degree of excitation depending on the load,
skills (fine motor skills, bilateral coordination of the
during the performance of the movement (special
body and movement performance in a given time
importance is given to the function of the reticular
interval) requires a higher level of cognitive
formation in the facilitation effect to the cerebrum
demand. Motor skills that show a higher correlation
cortex areas). This assertion is confirmed by
with cognitive abilities can be interpreted as
research by Jakšić, Kolar, & Cvetković (2007) who
complex motor skills and they require cognitive
have obtained results confirming the influence of the
abilities of higher order. Motor tasks that show
intelligence to the motor ability of movement
lower correlation with cognitive abilities require less
frequency (hand tapping) among children aged 5 to
cognitive engagement.
6.5 years.
Children of higher intellectual capacity are better
The results obtained in this study do not coincide
and more effective in solving motor problems and
with the results from the most of the previous
tasks set before them, especially if they are under
studies. This fact can be attributed to the specifics of
significant influence of the mechanism for
both the sample of respondents and measuring
movement structuring and mechanisms for
instruments themselves. The results of study
regulation of excitation intensity
(Fratrić et al.,
(Colquitt et al., 2011) indicate that other indicators
2012). Without the mutual effect of motor and
of physical fitness may predict academic
cognitive abilities it is hard to imagine most human
EQOL Journal (2016) 8(2): 9-14
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