Motor sequence learning and reading ability: Is poor reading associated with sequencing deficits?

Deborah P. Waber*, David J. Marcus, Peter W. Forbes, David C. Bellinger, Michael D. Weiler, Lisa G. Sorensen, Tim Curran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Although it is widely assumed that children with learning disabilities have "sequencing problems," these have not been well specified. A non-verbal serial reaction time (SRT) paradigm was used to evaluate motor sequence learning in 422 children between ages 7 and 11 in relation to reading, cognitive ability level, and attention problems. The children demonstrated the response profile typically associated with motor sequence learning, but the component of the profile indicative of implicit sequence learning was not reliably associated with any of the predictors. Cognitive ability predicted overall response time; cognitive ability, reading, and attention problems each predicted overall accuracy. Explicit learning was predicted by cognitive ability, but not by reading or attention problems. Thus, we found no evidence that poor reading is preferentially associated with a domain general deficit in sequential learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-354
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2003


  • Children
  • Learning disability
  • Procedural learning
  • Reading
  • Sequencing
  • Serial reaction time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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