Visual Illusions Affect Motor Performance, But not Learning in Highly Skilled Shooters

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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Enhanced expectancies are an important component of OPTIMAL theory and are thought to contribute to motor performance and learning. There is limited information, however, on the generalizability of OPTIMAL theory to highly skilled individuals. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of visual illusions, specifically an Ebbinghaus illusion, on the performance and learning of an aiming task using highly skilled 10-m rifle and pistol shooters. Two groups of shooters with international experience were recruited and practiced with perceived larger and smaller targets. Our results indicated that participants who perceived the target larger reported higher self-efficacy immediately after practice. In addition, these participants had higher shooting performance during practice. Our retention test (24 hours later), however, did not produce differences in self-efficacy or shooting performance. Our data suggests that visual illusions are beneficial for motor performance in highly skilled shooters, but may not affect learning in those who are in the latter stages of learning. Further studies should continue examining the role of visual illusions for enhancing expectancies in highly skilled and experienced performers.

Bahmani and Ghadiri are with the Dept. of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Physical Education & Sport Sciences, Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran. Diekfuss is with The SPORT Center, Div. of Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH. Rostami and Ataee are with the Dept. of Motor Behavior, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.

Address author correspondence to Moslem Bahmani at bahmani_moslem@yahoo.com.
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