Advertisement

The relationship between motor skills and cognitive skills in 4–16 year old typically developing children: A systematic review

Published:September 18, 2014DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2014.09.007

      Abstract

      Objectives

      This review aims to give an overview of studies providing evidence for a relationship between motor and cognitive skills in typically developing children.

      Design

      A systematic review.

      Methods

      PubMed, Web of Science, and PsychINFO were searched for relevant articles. A total of 21 articles were included in this study. Methodological quality was independently assessed by two reviewers. Motor and cognitive skills were divided into six categories.

      Results

      There was either no correlation in the literature, or insufficient evidence for or against many correlations between motor skills and cognitive skills. However, weak-to-strong evidence was found for some correlations between underlying categories of motor and cognitive skills, including complex motor skills and higher order cognitive skills. Furthermore, a stronger relationship between underlying categories of motor and cognitive skills was found in pre-pubertal children compared to pubertal children (older than 13 years).

      Conclusions

      Weak-to-strong relations were found between some motor and cognitive skills. The results suggest that complex motor intervention programs can be used to stimulate both motor and higher order cognitive skills in pre-pubertal children.

      Keywords

      1. Introduction

      Historically, there have been different views about the relationship between motor skills and cognitive skills in children. On the one hand, motor and cognitive skills have been considered as entirely different processes, developing independently, and involving different brain regions.
      • Hertzberg O.E.
      The relationship of motor ability to the intelligence of kindergarten children.
      On the other hand, Piaget
      • Piaget J.
      The origins of intelligence in children.
      considered that motor and cognitive skills are closely related. Piaget's theory was based on the idea that children learn from observable motor actions with objects. There are several explanations for a possible relationship between motor and cognitive skills in children. First, research has shown co-activations between the prefrontal cortex, the cerebellum, and the basal ganglia during several motor and cognitive tasks, especially when a task is difficult, a task is new, conditions of a task change, a quick response is required, and concentration is needed to perform a task.
      • Desmond J.E.
      • Gabrieli J.D.E.
      • Wagner A.D.
      • et al.
      Lobular patterns of cerebellar activation in verbal working memory and finger tapping tasks as revealed by functional MRI.
      • Diamond A.
      Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex.
      A second explanation for a relationship between motor and cognitive skills is that these skills might have a similar developmental timetable with an accelerated development between the ages of 5 and 10 years.
      • Anderson V.
      • Anderson P.
      • Northam E.
      • et al.
      Development of executive functions through late childhood and adolescence: an Australian sample.
      Third, both motor and cognitive skills have several common underlying processes, such as sequencing, monitoring, and planning.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      These possible explanations highlight a need to explore how motor skills relate with cognitive skills and whether the link is specific to certain categories of skill.
      Motor and cognitive skills are broad concepts and have been defined in a number of different ways. In the current review, motor skills are defined as learned sequences of movements that are combined to produce a smooth, efficient action in order to master a particular task.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      Different categories of motor tasks are distinguished: (1) Gross motor skills, this includes skills like jumping, sprinting, and walking. Furthermore, all underlying physical abilities like strength, agility, flexibility, and balance, that are needed to perform a task are included in this category; (2) Fine motor skills which are tasks where fine motor precision and integration are needed;
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      (3) Bilateral body coordination, this includes whole body coordination tasks and demands engagement of almost all body parts and bilateral motor coordination of lower and upper extremities;
      • Planinsec J.
      • Pisot R.
      Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
      (4) Timed performance in movements, these are tasks (gross/fine motor skills or object control tasks) in which the time a child takes to perform a required number of movements is important and are often divided into repetitive movements and sequenced movements.
      • Jenni O.G.
      • Chaouch A.
      • Caflisch J.
      • et al.
      Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
      Repetitive movements are simple movements that are repeated as quickly as possible.
      • Martin R.
      • Tigera C.
      • Denckla M.B.
      • et al.
      Factor structure of paediatric timed motor examination and its relationship with IQ.
      Sequenced movements include alternating patterns of more complex movements performed as quickly as possible;
      • Martin R.
      • Tigera C.
      • Denckla M.B.
      • et al.
      Factor structure of paediatric timed motor examination and its relationship with IQ.
      (5) In the category object control, skills are included in which an object has to be controlled, such as ball skills; Finally, (6) Total motor score, which is described as the sum score of a combination of motor skills out of the five other categories. It is worth to note that the categories are not exclusive and as such, motor skills from one category may contain elements of other categories.
      Cognitive skills are understood as the mental actions or processes of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      Different aspects of cognitive skills are included in this review, based on the skills used in literature. Executive functions are described as higher order cognitive skills that enable self-control and include the following metacognitive skills: response inhibition, which is described as the suppression of actions that are no longer required or that are inappropriate; planning, which is described as a plan that can be represented as a hierarchy of sub goals, each requiring actions to achieve the goal; attention, which is described as the ability to attend to some things while ignoring others; and working memory, which is described as the ability to store and manipulate information over a period of seconds to minutes.
      • Gazzaniga M.S.
      • Ivry R.B.
      • Mangun G.R.
      Learning and memory.
      Visual processing is described as a path that information takes from visual sensors to cognitive processing.
      • Boden C.
      • Giaschi D.
      M-stream deficits and reading-related visual processes in developmental dyslexia.
      Short-term memory is described as the capacity to hold information in mind in the absence of external stimulation over a short period of time.
      • Nee D.E.
      • Jonides J.
      Trisecting representational states in STM.
      Information retained for a significant time is referred to as long-term memory.
      • Gazzaniga M.S.
      • Ivry R.B.
      • Mangun G.R.
      Learning and memory.
      Fluid intelligence is the ability to think logically and solve problems in novel situations; this is independent of acquired knowledge.
      • Catell R.B.
      The discovery of fluid and crystallized general intelligence.
      Crystallized intelligence refers to the capacity to use skills, knowledge, and experience by accessing information from long-term memory.
      • Catell R.B.
      The discovery of fluid and crystallized general intelligence.
      Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a measure to calculate a person's intelligence. Academic skills are skills developed or measured in educational settings.
      Recent literature has reviewed relationships between motor and cognitive skills in children with DCD and children born preterm.
      • Wilson P.H.
      • Ruddock S.
      • Smits-Engelsman B.
      • et al.
      Understanding performance deficits in developmental coordination disorder: a meta-analysis of recent research.
      ,
      • Jongbloed-Pereboom M.
      • Janssen A.J.
      • Steenbergen B.
      • et al.
      Motor learning and working memory in children born preterm: a systematic review.
      Wilson et al.
      • Wilson P.H.
      • Ruddock S.
      • Smits-Engelsman B.
      • et al.
      Understanding performance deficits in developmental coordination disorder: a meta-analysis of recent research.
      suggested a relationship between impaired motor skills like rhythmic coordination, gait and postural control, catching and interceptive action and impaired cognitive skills like internal (forward) modeling, executive function, and aspects of sensoriperceptual function in children with DCD. Jongbloed-Pereboom et al.
      • Jongbloed-Pereboom M.
      • Janssen A.J.
      • Steenbergen B.
      • et al.
      Motor learning and working memory in children born preterm: a systematic review.
      found that information regarding the relationship between different components of motor learning and working memory in children born preterm was not available in literature. However, we are not aware of any reviews that focus on the relationship between motor skills and cognitive skills in typically developing children. Therefore, the present review aims to give an overview of studies providing evidence for a relationship between motor and cognitive skills in typically developing children. If there are indications for relationships between components of motor and cognitive skills, programs focusing on one domain could be designed to optimize performance of both motor and cognitive skills in typically developing children.

      2. Methods

      The databases used for the literature search were PubMed, Web of Science, and PsycINFO; they were searched for records that contained one of the following combinations of terms ([1 AND 2] OR 3):
      • 1.
        Motor skills (OR motor skill competency OR motor performance OR motor coordination OR motor function OR motor development OR motor abilities OR motor control OR motor examination OR motor milestones OR motor behavior OR fine motor skills OR gross motor skills OR postural control OR movement assessment battery OR fine and gross motor development) OR test of gross motor development.
      • 2.
        Cognitive skills (OR cognitive performance OR cognitive function OR cognitive abilities OR cognitive behavior OR cognitive control OR cognitive processes OR cognition) OR intelligence (OR IQ) OR academic achievement (OR kindergarten achievement) OR language development OR executive functions (OR memory OR working memory OR attention).
      • 3.
        Cognitive-motor structures (OR cognitive predictors of motor functions OR motor and cognitive dimensions OR executive function, motor performance and externalizing behavior).
      Inclusion criteria for this review were that the studies were:
      • (1)
        Published between 2000 and 2013, (2) written in English, (3) focused on children aged 4–16 years old, (4) reporting a correlation, regression analysis, or factor structure between motor skills and cognitive skills, and (5) original articles. The age range was chosen, because motor functioning as well as executive functions show an accelerated development between 5 and 10 years with a continued development into adolescence.
        • Anderson V.
        • Anderson P.
        • Northam E.
        • et al.
        Development of executive functions through late childhood and adolescence: an Australian sample.
        The limited range of literature between 2000 and 2013 was selected, because it gives an overview of the most recent literature on the relationship between motor and cognitive skills, without constraining the broad definitions of motor and cognitive skills.
      Exclusion criteria for this review were:
      • (1)
        Studies with special populations (e.g. children with developmental disorders, brain injuries, adoptees, children born preterm, children with gifted performance), and (2) intervention studies.
      The stages adopted in the systematic search resulted in 21 relevant articles being identified for further analysis (Fig. 1).
      Figure thumbnail gr1
      Fig. 1Stages adopted in the systematic selection of articles. a Based on inclusion criteria 1, 2, and 3 (child: birth—18 years); b based on inclusion criteria 1, 2, and 3 (childhood, preschool age, school age, adolescence) and the search was based on title; c based on inclusion criteria 1, 2, and 5 and the search was based on title; d We asked several principal investigators in the field for suggestions to prevent missing key publications not included by searching electronic databases.
      The included articles were evaluated for methodological quality according to the guidelines of Law et al.
      • Law M.
      • Stewart D.
      • Letts L.
      • et al.
      Guidelines for critical review of qualitative studies—based on guidelines for critical review form-qualitative studies.
      This method evaluated each article using the following main categories: study purpose, literature background, study design, sample, outcomes, intervention, results, conclusions and clinical implications. The methodological quality was assessed using 14 questions (see footnote Table 1). These questions were scored as either 1 (met the criteria) or 0 (did not meet the criteria). The scores on the 14 questions were summed for each article. For question five, articles only met the criteria when the sample size was at least 100.
      • Hair T.F.
      • Black W.C.
      • Babin B.J.
      • et al.
      Multivariate data analysis.
      For questions seven and eight, articles only met the criteria when all the assessment tools were reliable or valid. A total score below seven was considered as low methodological quality, a score between seven and ten points was considered as good methodological quality and 11 points or higher was considered as high methodological quality. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality of the studies. Different scores were discussed and consensus was reached in all cases. Table 1 shows the methodological quality of the reviewed studies.
      Table 1Methodological quality of the reviewed studies.
      1=meet criteria; 0=does not meet criteria.
      Question number
      (1) Was the study purpose stated clearly? (2) Was relevant background literature reviewed? (3) Was the design appropriate for the research question? (4) Was the sample described in detail? (5) Was sample size justified? (6) Was informed consent obtained? (7) Were the outcome measures reliable? (8) Were the outcome measures valid? (9) Were results reported in terms of statistical significance? (10) Were the analysis methods appropriate? (11) Was clinical importance reported? (12) Were conclusions appropriate given the study methods? (13) Are there any implications for clinical practice given the results of the study? (14) Were limitations of the study acknowledged and described by the authors?
      1234567891011121314Total
      Roebers and Kauer
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      1111110011111112
      Davis et al.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      1111111111111114
      Davis et al.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      1111111111111114
      Planinsec and Pisot
      • Planinsec J.
      • Pisot R.
      Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
      1111111111010011
      Jenni et al.
      • Jenni O.G.
      • Chaouch A.
      • Caflisch J.
      • et al.
      Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
      1111110011010110
      Martin et al.
      • Martin R.
      • Tigera C.
      • Denckla M.B.
      • et al.
      Factor structure of paediatric timed motor examination and its relationship with IQ.
      1111111111011113
      Cameron et al.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      1111101111011112
      Kovač and Strel
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      1011111111110011
      Rigoli et al.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      1111011111011112
      Livesey et al.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      111101101101009
      Rigoli et al.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      1111011111111113
      Katic and Bala
      • Katic R.
      • Bala G.
      Relationships between cognitive and motor abilities in female children aged 10–14 years.
      111110001101008
      Planinsec
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      1111101111010010
      Planinsec
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      1111101111010010
      Morales et al.
      • Morales J.
      • González L.
      • Guerra M.
      • et al.
      Physical activity, perceptual-motor performance, and academic learning in 9-to-16-years-old school children.
      1111111111011113
      Pangelinan et al.
      • Pangelinan M.M.
      • Zhang G.
      • Van Meter J.W.
      • et al.
      Beyond age and gender: relationships between cortical and subcortical brain volume and cognitive-motor abilities in school-age children.
      1111101111011112
      Castelli et al.
      • Castelli D.
      • Erwin H.
      • Buck S.
      • et al.
      Relationship between motor skill competency and cognitive processes in children.
      111000001101006
      Decker et al.
      • Decker S.L.
      • Englund J.A.
      • Carboni J.A.
      • et al.
      Cognitive and developmental influences in visual-motor integration skills in young children.
      1110101111111011
      Nourbakhsh
      • Nourbakhsh P.
      Perceptual-motor abilities and their relationships with academic performance of fifth grade pupils in comparison with Oseretsky scale.
      1111101111111012
      Smits-Engelsman and Hill
      • Smits-Engelsman B.
      • Hill E.L.
      The relationship between motor coordination an intelligence across the IQ range.
      1111111111111114
      Wassenberg et al.
      • Wassenberg R.
      • Feron F.J.M.
      • Kessels A.G.H.
      • et al.
      Relation between cognitive and motor performance in 5- to 6-year old children: results from a large-scale cross-sectional study.
      1111101111010010
      a 1 = meet criteria; 0 = does not meet criteria.
      b (1) Was the study purpose stated clearly? (2) Was relevant background literature reviewed? (3) Was the design appropriate for the research question? (4) Was the sample described in detail? (5) Was sample size justified? (6) Was informed consent obtained? (7) Were the outcome measures reliable? (8) Were the outcome measures valid? (9) Were results reported in terms of statistical significance? (10) Were the analysis methods appropriate? (11) Was clinical importance reported? (12) Were conclusions appropriate given the study methods? (13) Are there any implications for clinical practice given the results of the study? (14) Were limitations of the study acknowledged and described by the authors?
      To interpret levels of evidence, the following regulations were used
      • Berghmans L.C.
      • Hendriks H.J.
      • De Bie R.A.
      • et al.
      Conservative treatment of urge urinary incontinence in women: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.
      • De Croon E.M.
      • Sluiter J.K.
      • Nijssen T.E.
      • et al.
      Predictive factors of work disability in rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic literature review.
      :
      • 1.
        To state that there is strong evidence for or against a relationship between motor and cognitive skills, at least three high methodological quality studies with consistent results for this relationship were needed, or more than four studies of which more than 66% found consistent results and no more than 25% find an opposite result.
      • 2.
        To state there is weak evidence for or against a relationship between motor and cognitive skills, three studies of which two are in agreement and the third which is not in agreement, or at least three low or good quality studies with consistent positive results for or against the relationship were needed.
      • 3.
        There was insufficient evidence for a correlation between motor and cognitive skills when there were low or moderate quality studies with inconsistent results or with fewer than three studies of whatever quality.
      • 4.
        There was no evidence for a correlation between motor and cognitive skills when there was only one study available.
      Motor skills were divided into the following six categories: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, bilateral body coordination, timed performance in movements, object control, and total motor score. Motor skills from one category might contain elements of other categories, since the categories are not exclusive. When this was the case, these skills were classified in the category where they fitted the best according to the original article. Most of the studies reported correlations between motor skills and cognitive skills. Correlations lower than 0.3 were considered as weak, correlations between 0.3 and 0.5 were considered as moderate, and correlations above 0.5 were considered as strong.
      • Field A.
      Everything you ever wanted to know about statistics (well, sort of).
      • Cohen J.
      The analysis of variance.

      3. Results

      Table S1 shows the authors, number of participants, motor and cognitive skills, and the results of each of the 21 studies according to their category. All correlations (positive and negative) indicated that better performance in motor skills is related to better performance in cognitive skills. It is worth noting that sometimes lower scores in one test indicated better performance (the test had to be performed in less time) while in the other test, higher scores indicated better performance. The correlation between two tests can thus be negative, even though it indicates that better performance in one test is related to better performance in the other test. Some of the included articles studied different categories of motor skills, so they were included in more than one category. Table 2 provides a summary of the results section, including the relationships investigated and strength of evidence for or against relationships.
      Table 2Summary of systematic review on relationships between motor and cognitive skills.
      Motor skillCognitive skillNo correlationWeak correlationModerate correlationStrong correlationEvidence
      Gross motor skillsExecutive functions6, 27, 28
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      6, 26
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      Strong (no correlation)
      Visual processing7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      , 8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Short-term memory7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Long-term memory7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Fluid intelligence7a, 25, 30, 318
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Strong (no correlation)
      Crystallized intelligence247a,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Weak (weak)
      IQ1010Insufficient
      Academic skills26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      24Insufficient
      General knowledge24No
      Visuospatial working memory26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Working memory26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      , 28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Verbal comprehension26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      , 28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      24Weak (no correlation)
      Attention28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Cognitive capacity to encode and analyze information29No
      Fine motor skillsShort-term memory7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Weak (weak-moderate)
      Long-term memory7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      Insufficient
      Fluid intelligence8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      Weak (weak-moderate)
      Crystallized intelligence7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      247
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      Insufficient
      Visual processing7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      Strong (moderate-strong)
      General knowledge24No
      Academic skills26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      24
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      24
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      32Insufficient
      Verbal comprehension26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      24Insufficient
      Working memory26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Visuospatial working memory26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Executive functions28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      27Insufficient
      Attention28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Bilateral body coordinationExecutive functions6No
      Visual processing7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Short-term memory7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Long-term memory7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Fluid intelligence9
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,31
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      9
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,25,30g, 31
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,30
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      Strong (weak-moderate correlation)
      Academic skills36No
      Cognitive capacity to encode and analyze information29
      Pubertal children (>13 years).
      29
      Pre-pubertal children (<13 years).
      No
      Crystallized intelligence7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,8
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Timed performance in movementsExecutive functions6No
      IQ10
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      10
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      ,11, 33
      10
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      Weak (weak-moderate)
      Fluid intelligence25
      Pubertal children (>13 years).
      ,31
      25
      Pre-pubertal children (<13 years).
      , 30
      Female participants.
      , 30
      Male participants.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      30
      Male participants.
      ,
      Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      Weak (weak-moderate)
      Academic skills36No
      Spatial working memory33No
      Object controlExecutive functions27, 28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      34Insufficient
      Fluid intelligence9,30,35Weak (weak)
      Working memory26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,35
      Weak (weak)
      Visuospatial working memory26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,35
      Strong (weak)
      Verbal comprehension26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      ,28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      Insufficient
      Academic skills32
      Pubertal children (>13 years).
      26
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      32
      Pre-pubertal children (<13 years).
      Weak (weak-moderate)
      Attention28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Knowledge35No
      Quantitative reasoning35No
      Total motor scoreTotal cognitive score7
      Studies of Davis et al.7,8 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Executive functions27,3828
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      Weak (no correlation)
      Attention28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      Working memory28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      38Insufficient
      Verbal comprehension28
      Studies of Rigoli et al.26,28 reporting on the same sample size.
      No
      IQ37No
      Visual motor integration38No
      Visual processing38No
      a Studies of Davis et al.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      reporting on the same sample size.
      b Studies of Rigoli et al.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      reporting on the same sample size.
      c Studies used different underlying aspects of motor skills and found different results.
      f Female participants.
      m Male participants.
      pp Pre-pubertal children (<13 years).
      p Pubertal children (>13 years).
      Twelve articles were included in the category gross motor skills.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Jenni O.G.
      • Chaouch A.
      • Caflisch J.
      • et al.
      Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Katic R.
      • Bala G.
      Relationships between cognitive and motor abilities in female children aged 10–14 years.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      Five articles had good methodological quality and seven articles had high methodological quality. Table S1 and Table 2 show strong evidence for no correlation between gross motor skills and both executive functions and fluid intelligence.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      There was weak evidence for no correlation between gross motor skills and verbal comprehension.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      Weak evidence was found for a weak correlation between gross motor skills and crystallized intelligence.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      There was insufficient evidence for a correlation between gross motor skills and visual processing, short-term memory, long term memory, IQ, academic skills, and working memory.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Jenni O.G.
      • Chaouch A.
      • Caflisch J.
      • et al.
      Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      There was no evidence for a correlation between gross motor skills and general knowledge, visuospatial working memory, attention, and cognitive capacity to encode and analyze.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Katic R.
      • Bala G.
      Relationships between cognitive and motor abilities in female children aged 10–14 years.
      Seven articles were included in the category fine motor skills.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Morales J.
      • González L.
      • Guerra M.
      • et al.
      Physical activity, perceptual-motor performance, and academic learning in 9-to-16-years-old school children.
      One article had good methodological quality and six articles had high methodological quality. Table S1 and Table 2 show strong evidence for a moderate-to-strong correlation between fine motor skills and visual processing.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      There was weak evidence for a weak-to-moderate correlation between fine motor skills and both short-term memory and fluid intelligence.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      There was insufficient evidence for a correlation between fine motor skills and executive functions, long-term memory, crystallized intelligence, academic skills, and verbal comprehension.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Morales J.
      • González L.
      • Guerra M.
      • et al.
      Physical activity, perceptual-motor performance, and academic learning in 9-to-16-years-old school children.
      No evidence was found for a correlation between fine motor skills and general knowledge, working memory, visuospatial working memory, and attention.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      Nine articles were included in the category bilateral body coordination.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Planinsec J.
      • Pisot R.
      Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      • Katic R.
      • Bala G.
      Relationships between cognitive and motor abilities in female children aged 10–14 years.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      • Nourbakhsh P.
      Perceptual-motor abilities and their relationships with academic performance of fifth grade pupils in comparison with Oseretsky scale.
      Three articles had good methodological quality and six articles had high methodological quality. Table S1 and Table 2 show strong evidence for a weak-to-moderate correlation between bilateral body coordination and fluid intelligence.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      • Planinsec J.
      • Pisot R.
      Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      There was insufficient evidence for a correlation between bilateral body coordination and visual processing, short-term memory, long-term memory, and crystallized intelligence.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Jaspan T.
      • et al.
      Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
      There was no evidence for a relation between bilateral body coordination and executive functions, the cognitive capacity to encode and analyze information, and academic skills.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      • Katic R.
      • Bala G.
      Relationships between cognitive and motor abilities in female children aged 10–14 years.
      • Nourbakhsh P.
      Perceptual-motor abilities and their relationships with academic performance of fifth grade pupils in comparison with Oseretsky scale.
      Within the category bilateral body coordination, there was weak evidence that coordination of movement in rhythm showed the strongest correlations with cognitive skills.
      • Planinsec J.
      • Pisot R.
      Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      Eight articles were included in the category timed performance in movements.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      • Jenni O.G.
      • Chaouch A.
      • Caflisch J.
      • et al.
      Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
      • Martin R.
      • Tigera C.
      • Denckla M.B.
      • et al.
      Factor structure of paediatric timed motor examination and its relationship with IQ.
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      • Pangelinan M.M.
      • Zhang G.
      • Van Meter J.W.
      • et al.
      Beyond age and gender: relationships between cortical and subcortical brain volume and cognitive-motor abilities in school-age children.
      • Nourbakhsh P.
      Perceptual-motor abilities and their relationships with academic performance of fifth grade pupils in comparison with Oseretsky scale.
      Three articles had good methodological quality and five articles had high methodological quality. Table S1 and Table 2 show weak evidence for a weak-to-moderate correlation between timed performance in movements and both IQ and fluid intelligence.
      • Jenni O.G.
      • Chaouch A.
      • Caflisch J.
      • et al.
      Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
      • Martin R.
      • Tigera C.
      • Denckla M.B.
      • et al.
      Factor structure of paediatric timed motor examination and its relationship with IQ.
      • Kovač M.
      • Strel J.
      The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      • Pangelinan M.M.
      • Zhang G.
      • Van Meter J.W.
      • et al.
      Beyond age and gender: relationships between cortical and subcortical brain volume and cognitive-motor abilities in school-age children.
      There was no evidence for a correlation between timed performance in movements and executive functions, spatial working memory, and academic skills.
      • Roebers C.M.
      • Kauer M.
      Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
      • Pangelinan M.M.
      • Zhang G.
      • Van Meter J.W.
      • et al.
      Beyond age and gender: relationships between cortical and subcortical brain volume and cognitive-motor abilities in school-age children.
      • Nourbakhsh P.
      Perceptual-motor abilities and their relationships with academic performance of fifth grade pupils in comparison with Oseretsky scale.
      Within the category timed performance in movements, sequenced movements showed to be more strongly related to cognitive skills compared to repetitive movements.
      • Jenni O.G.
      • Chaouch A.
      • Caflisch J.
      • et al.
      Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
      • Martin R.
      • Tigera C.
      • Denckla M.B.
      • et al.
      Factor structure of paediatric timed motor examination and its relationship with IQ.
      Eight articles were included in the category object control.
      • Planinsec J.
      • Pisot R.
      Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Morales J.
      • González L.
      • Guerra M.
      • et al.
      Physical activity, perceptual-motor performance, and academic learning in 9-to-16-years-old school children.
      • Castelli D.
      • Erwin H.
      • Buck S.
      • et al.
      Relationship between motor skill competency and cognitive processes in children.
      • Decker S.L.
      • Englund J.A.
      • Carboni J.A.
      • et al.
      Cognitive and developmental influences in visual-motor integration skills in young children.
      One article had low methodological quality, two articles had good methodological quality and five articles had high methodological quality. Table S1 and Table 2 show strong evidence for a weak correlation between object control and visuospatial working memory.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Decker S.L.
      • Englund J.A.
      • Carboni J.A.
      • et al.
      Cognitive and developmental influences in visual-motor integration skills in young children.
      There was weak evidence for a weak correlation between object control and both fluid intelligence and working memory.
      • Planinsec J.
      • Pisot R.
      Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Planinsec J.
      Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
      • Decker S.L.
      • Englund J.A.
      • Carboni J.A.
      • et al.
      Cognitive and developmental influences in visual-motor integration skills in young children.
      Insufficient evidence was found for a correlation between object control and executive functions, verbal comprehension, and academic skills.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane R.
      • et al.
      Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Morales J.
      • González L.
      • Guerra M.
      • et al.
      Physical activity, perceptual-motor performance, and academic learning in 9-to-16-years-old school children.
      • Castelli D.
      • Erwin H.
      • Buck S.
      • et al.
      Relationship between motor skill competency and cognitive processes in children.
      There was no evidence for a correlation between object control and attention, knowledge, and quantitative reasoning.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Decker S.L.
      • Englund J.A.
      • Carboni J.A.
      • et al.
      Cognitive and developmental influences in visual-motor integration skills in young children.
      Five articles were included in the category total motor score.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Smits-Engelsman B.
      • Hill E.L.
      The relationship between motor coordination an intelligence across the IQ range.
      • Wassenberg R.
      • Feron F.J.M.
      • Kessels A.G.H.
      • et al.
      Relation between cognitive and motor performance in 5- to 6-year old children: results from a large-scale cross-sectional study.
      Two articles had good methodological quality and three articles had high methodological quality. Table S1 and Table 2 show weak evidence for no correlation between total motor score and executive functions.
      • Livesey D.
      • Keen J.
      • Rouse J.
      • et al.
      The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Wassenberg R.
      • Feron F.J.M.
      • Kessels A.G.H.
      • et al.
      Relation between cognitive and motor performance in 5- to 6-year old children: results from a large-scale cross-sectional study.
      There was insufficient evidence for a correlation between total motor score and working memory.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Wassenberg R.
      • Feron F.J.M.
      • Kessels A.G.H.
      • et al.
      Relation between cognitive and motor performance in 5- to 6-year old children: results from a large-scale cross-sectional study.
      No evidence was found for a correlation between object control and total cognitive score, attention, verbal comprehension, IQ, visual motor integration, and visual processing.
      • Davis E.E.
      • Pitchford N.J.
      • Limback E.
      The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Smits-Engelsman B.
      • Hill E.L.
      The relationship between motor coordination an intelligence across the IQ range.
      • Wassenberg R.
      • Feron F.J.M.
      • Kessels A.G.H.
      • et al.
      Relation between cognitive and motor performance in 5- to 6-year old children: results from a large-scale cross-sectional study.

      4. Discussion

      The aim of the present review was to give an overview of studies providing evidence for a relationship between motor and cognitive skills in 4–16 year old typically developing children. Following the results, there is either no correlation in the literature, or insufficient evidence for or against many correlations between motor skills and cognitive skills. However, weak-to-strong evidence is found for some correlations between underlying categories of motor and cognitive skills, resulting in some interesting findings: fine motor skills, bilateral body coordination, and timed performance in movements show the strongest relations with cognitive skills. However, balance and strength/agility were less related to cognitive skills. These findings might be explained by the fact that the first group of motor skills (fine motor skills, bilateral body coordination, and timed performance in movements) have a higher cognitive demand. The motor skills that show stronger relations to cognitive skills can be interpreted as complex motor skills and require higher order cognitive skills.
      • Best J.R.
      Effects of physical activity on children's executive function: contributions of experimental research on aerobic exercise.
      The motor tasks that show lower relations to cognitive skills require less cognitive engagement in the tasks.
      • Best J.R.
      Effects of physical activity on children's executive function: contributions of experimental research on aerobic exercise.
      This is supported by a neuropsychological view; the relation between motor and cognitive skills is mediated by the co-activation of the cerebellum (important for complex and coordinated movements) and the prefrontal cortex (important for higher-order cognitive skills).
      • Diamond A.
      Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex.
      Furthermore, there was weak evidence for a weak-to-moderate correlation between different motor skills and fluid intelligence and visual processing. Fluid intelligence is a higher-order complex cognitive skill and is important for performing complex motor movements.
      • Best J.R.
      Effects of physical activity on children's executive function: contributions of experimental research on aerobic exercise.
      Visual processing may be an important cognitive skill for performing motor tasks, as Koziol and Lutz
      • Koziol L.F.
      • Lutz J.T.
      From movement to thought: the development of executive function.
      argued that a child's knowledge of motor skills is initially grounded in the process of sensorimotor anticipations and this represents the forerunner of the thinking that is required for executive functions. Their study demonstrates important relationships between movement, action control, and thinking.
      Lastly, weak evidence was found for a stronger relationship between underlying categories of motor and cognitive skills (e.g. bilateral body coordination with fluid intelligence, timed performance in movements with fluid intelligence, and fine motor skills with academic skills) in pre-pubertal children compared to pubertal children (older than 13 years).
      • Cameron C.E.
      • Brock L.L.
      • Murrah W.M.
      • et al.
      Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
      • Rigoli D.
      • Piek J.P.
      • Kane
      • et al.
      An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
      • Planinsec J.
      Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
      This finding supports the statement of Anderson et al.
      • Anderson V.
      • Anderson P.
      • Northam E.
      • et al.
      Development of executive functions through late childhood and adolescence: an Australian sample.
      that motor skills and cognitive skills develop in equal stages in young children, with an accelerated development between 5 and 10 years old. However, when children get older, the motor skills and cognitive skills might begin to develop more separately.
      A limitation of this review is that motor skills are classified according to the articles that have been reviewed and are based on the most essential aspects. However, the distribution of the categories is still a point of discussion, since almost all motor skills contain elements of other categories and are not mutually exclusive. A strength of this review is that wide concepts of motor skills and cognitive skills were used which resulted in a detailed overview of the relationship between motor and cognitive skills. Furthermore, this review included mostly good or high methodological quality studies. Therefore, some weak-to-strong evidence for or against relationships between underlying categories of motor and cognitive skills were found. However, there is either no correlation in the literature, or insufficient evidence for or against many correlations between motor skills and cognitive skills. There were some indications for correlations between different categories of motor and cognitive skills; however, there were insufficient articles to provide evidence. Future studies should investigate these correlations between motor and cognitive skills to get evidence for these relationships. Furthermore, in future studies it would be interesting to compare the level of evidence as well as the strength of relationships between typically developing children and special populations (e.g. children scoring higher/lower on motor and/or cognitive skills) and between different age categories.

      5. Conclusions

      The aim of the present review was to give an overview of studies providing evidence for a relationship between motor and cognitive skills in 4–16 year old typically developing children. There is either no correlation in the literature, or insufficient evidence for or against many correlations between motor skills and cognitive skills. However, weak-to-strong evidence was found for some correlations between underlying categories of motor and cognitive skills. The only correlations that were found suggest the importance of complex motor skills and higher order cognitive skills to explain correlations between motor and cognitive skills. Furthermore, this review shows stronger relationship between underlying categories of motor and cognitive skills in pre-pubertal children compared to pubertal children (older than 13 years).
      The results of this review are interesting in the context of training programs focusing on optimizing motor and/or cognitive skills in children, as it would support the concept that interventions in one domain (motor or cognitive skills) may support development of both motor and cognitive skills, especially in pre-pubertal children. This is supported by a recent study by Westendorp et al.
      • Westendorp M.
      • Houwen S.
      • Hartman E.
      • et al.
      Effect of a ball skill intervention on children's ball skills and cognitive functions.
      Following the results in this review, complex motor skills such as fine motor skills, coordination of movement in rhythm, and sequenced movements should be included in motor intervention programs to improve higher order cognitive skills or vice versa.

      Practical implications

      • The relationships between categories of motor and cognitive skills in typically developing children vary from weak-to-strong.
      • The strongest relationships have been found between complex motor skills and higher order cognitive skills.
      • The strength of the relationships between motor and cognitive skills seems to decrease in pubertal children (>13 years).
      • Complex motor intervention programs could be developed in order to stimulate both motor and higher order cognitive skills in children.

      Acknowledgement

      There has been no financial assistance with this review article.

      References

        • Hertzberg O.E.
        The relationship of motor ability to the intelligence of kindergarten children.
        J Educ Psychol. 1929; 20: 507-519
        • Piaget J.
        The origins of intelligence in children.
        Norton & Company, New York, NY1952
        • Desmond J.E.
        • Gabrieli J.D.E.
        • Wagner A.D.
        • et al.
        Lobular patterns of cerebellar activation in verbal working memory and finger tapping tasks as revealed by functional MRI.
        J Neurosci. 1997; 17: 9675-9685
        • Diamond A.
        Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex.
        Child Dev. 2000; 71: 44-56
        • Anderson V.
        • Anderson P.
        • Northam E.
        • et al.
        Development of executive functions through late childhood and adolescence: an Australian sample.
        Dev Neuropsychol. 2001; 20: 385-406
        • Roebers C.M.
        • Kauer M.
        Motor and cognitive control in a normative sample of 7-year-olds.
        Dev Sci. 2009; 12: 175-181
        • Davis E.E.
        • Pitchford N.J.
        • Limback E.
        The interrelation between cognitive and motor development in typically developing children aged 4–11 years is underpinned by visual processing and fine manual control.
        Brit J Psychol. 2011; 102: 569-584
        • Davis E.E.
        • Pitchford N.J.
        • Jaspan T.
        • et al.
        Development of cognitive and motor function following cerebellar tumour injury sustained in early childhood.
        Cortex. 2010; 46: 919-932
        • Planinsec J.
        • Pisot R.
        Motor coordination and intelligence level in adolescents.
        Adolescence. 2006; 41: 667-676
        • Jenni O.G.
        • Chaouch A.
        • Caflisch J.
        • et al.
        Correlations between motor and intellectual functions in normally developing children between 7 and 18 years.
        Dev Neuropsychol. 2013; 38: 98-113
        • Martin R.
        • Tigera C.
        • Denckla M.B.
        • et al.
        Factor structure of paediatric timed motor examination and its relationship with IQ.
        Dev Med Child Neurol. 2010; 52: e188-e194
        • Gazzaniga M.S.
        • Ivry R.B.
        • Mangun G.R.
        Learning and memory.
        Cognitive neuroscience: the biology of the mind. 3rd ed. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY2009 (Chapter 8)
        • Boden C.
        • Giaschi D.
        M-stream deficits and reading-related visual processes in developmental dyslexia.
        Psychol Bull. 2007; 133: 346-366
        • Nee D.E.
        • Jonides J.
        Trisecting representational states in STM.
        Front Hum Neurosci. 2013; 26: 796
        • Catell R.B.
        The discovery of fluid and crystallized general intelligence.
        Abilities: their structure, growth, and action. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY1971 (Chapter 5)
        • Wilson P.H.
        • Ruddock S.
        • Smits-Engelsman B.
        • et al.
        Understanding performance deficits in developmental coordination disorder: a meta-analysis of recent research.
        Dev Med Child Neurol. 2013; 55: 217-228
        • Jongbloed-Pereboom M.
        • Janssen A.J.
        • Steenbergen B.
        • et al.
        Motor learning and working memory in children born preterm: a systematic review.
        Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012; 36: 1314-1330
        • Law M.
        • Stewart D.
        • Letts L.
        • et al.
        Guidelines for critical review of qualitative studies—based on guidelines for critical review form-qualitative studies.
        McMaster University, Hamilton1998
        • Hair T.F.
        • Black W.C.
        • Babin B.J.
        • et al.
        Multivariate data analysis.
        6th ed. Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey2006
        • Berghmans L.C.
        • Hendriks H.J.
        • De Bie R.A.
        • et al.
        Conservative treatment of urge urinary incontinence in women: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.
        BJU Int. 2000; 85: 245-263
        • De Croon E.M.
        • Sluiter J.K.
        • Nijssen T.E.
        • et al.
        Predictive factors of work disability in rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic literature review.
        Ann Rheum Dis. 2004; 63: 1362-1367
        • Field A.
        Everything you ever wanted to know about statistics (well, sort of).
        Discovering statistics using SPSS. 3rd ed. Sage, London2009 (Chapter 2)
        • Cohen J.
        The analysis of variance.
        Statistical power analysis for the behavioral science. 2nd ed. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey1988 (Chapter 8)
        • Cameron C.E.
        • Brock L.L.
        • Murrah W.M.
        • et al.
        Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
        Child Dev. 2012; 83: 1229-1244
        • Kovač M.
        • Strel J.
        The relations between indicators of intelligence and motor abilities.
        Kinesiology. 2000; 32: 15-25
        • Rigoli D.
        • Piek J.P.
        • Kane R.
        • et al.
        Motor coordination, working memory, and academic achievement in a normative adolescent sample: Testing a mediation model.
        Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2012; 27: 766-780
        • Livesey D.
        • Keen J.
        • Rouse J.
        • et al.
        The relationship between measures of executive function, motor performance and externalising behaviour in 5- and 6-year-old children.
        Hum Mov Sci. 2006; 25: 50-64
        • Rigoli D.
        • Piek J.P.
        • Kane
        • et al.
        An examination of the relationship between motor coordination and executive functions in adolescents.
        Dev Med Child Neurol. 2012; 54: 1025-1031
        • Katic R.
        • Bala G.
        Relationships between cognitive and motor abilities in female children aged 10–14 years.
        Collegium Antropol. 2012; 36: 69-77
        • Planinsec J.
        Relations between the motor and cognitive dimensions of preschool girls and boys.
        Percept Motor Skill. 2002; 94: 415-423
        • Planinsec J.
        Developmental changes of relations between motor performance and FI.
        Studia Psychologica. 2002; 44: 85-94
        • Morales J.
        • González L.
        • Guerra M.
        • et al.
        Physical activity, perceptual-motor performance, and academic learning in 9-to-16-years-old school children.
        Int J Sport Psychol. 2011; 42: 401-415
        • Pangelinan M.M.
        • Zhang G.
        • Van Meter J.W.
        • et al.
        Beyond age and gender: relationships between cortical and subcortical brain volume and cognitive-motor abilities in school-age children.
        Neuroimage. 2001; 54: 3093-3100
        • Castelli D.
        • Erwin H.
        • Buck S.
        • et al.
        Relationship between motor skill competency and cognitive processes in children.
        Res Q Exercise Sport. 2006; 77: A51-A52
        • Decker S.L.
        • Englund J.A.
        • Carboni J.A.
        • et al.
        Cognitive and developmental influences in visual-motor integration skills in young children.
        Psychol Assessment. 2011; 23: 1010-1016
        • Nourbakhsh P.
        Perceptual-motor abilities and their relationships with academic performance of fifth grade pupils in comparison with Oseretsky scale.
        Kinesiology. 2006; 38: 40-48
        • Smits-Engelsman B.
        • Hill E.L.
        The relationship between motor coordination an intelligence across the IQ range.
        Pediatrics. 2012; 130: e950-e956
        • Wassenberg R.
        • Feron F.J.M.
        • Kessels A.G.H.
        • et al.
        Relation between cognitive and motor performance in 5- to 6-year old children: results from a large-scale cross-sectional study.
        Child Dev. 2005; 76: 1092-1103
        • Best J.R.
        Effects of physical activity on children's executive function: contributions of experimental research on aerobic exercise.
        Dev Rev. 2010; 30: 331-351
        • Koziol L.F.
        • Lutz J.T.
        From movement to thought: the development of executive function.
        Appl Neuropsychol Child. 2013; 2: 104-115
        • Westendorp M.
        • Houwen S.
        • Hartman E.
        • et al.
        Effect of a ball skill intervention on children's ball skills and cognitive functions.
        Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014; 46: 414-422