Fine Motor Skills and Vocabulary Development

Fine Motor Skills and Vocabulary DevelopmentFine Motor Skills and Vocabulary Development

Recently, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology published research examining the fine motor skills and vocabulary development in 90 preschool children.  Two experiments were carried out assessing the response latencies to 45 lexical items along with fine motor skills, reasoning, and general receptive/expressive vocabulary.  The 45 lexical items consisted of high body-object interaction, low body-object interaction and less imaginable words.

Body-object interaction words involve sensorimotor interactions with the environment to help understand cognitive processes.  Some examples of high body-object interaction words are couch, dish, drum, rope, and skirt.  Basically, they are objects that we interact with our environment.  Examples of low body-object interaction words are cloud, mist, smog, and torch.

In this particular study, the results indicated that:

  • high-body object interaction words appeared to show unique links to fine motor skills, which remained after accounting for low-body object interaction and less imageable words, general vocabulary, reasoning, and chronological age.

The researchers concluded that having greater fine motor skills improves lexical processing for high body-object words.


Siakaluk, P. D., Pexman, P. M., Aguilera, L., Owen, W. J., & Sears, C. R. (2008). Evidence for the activation of sensorimotor information during visual word recognition: The body–object interaction effect. Cognition106(1), 433-443.

Suggate, S., & Stoeger, H. (2017). Fine motor skills enhance lexical processing of embodied vocabulary: A test of the nimble-hands, nimble-minds hypothesis. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology70(10), 2169-2187.

Read more on:

Fine Motor Skills and Reading

Fundamental Motor Skills, Executive Function Skills, and Reading

Fine Motor Skills Linked to Numerical Skill Development


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