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Tim McGarry and Ian M. Franks

The ability to inhibit an earlier intended action in a stop-signal task is commonly assessed using the measures of latency and probability. The usual findings from stop-signal trials of lower response probabilities and shorter reaction latencies at reduced stop-signal delays were reported, as described in previous studies in terms of an independent race between stochastic processes (see Logan & Cowan, 1984). In addition, using the less common measure of amplitude, a continuum of reductions in surface EMG onsets was reported. Weakened motor discharges have yet to be explained in terms of a mechanism of inhibitory control. Using computer simulations of neural functioning, the properties of independence and non-independence were examined for their effects on motor pool output in terms of probability, latency, and EMG onsets. The data provided support to question the requirement of independent processes for a theory of inhibitory control.

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Dana Maslovat, Romeo Chua, Timothy D. Lee, and Ian M. Franks

This experiment examined contextual interference in producing a bimanual coordination pattern of 90° relative phase. Acquisition, retention, and transfer performance were compared in a single-task control group and groups that performed 2 tasks in either a blocked or random presentation. Surprisingly, acquisition data revealed that both the random and control groups outperformed the blocked group. Retention data showed a typical CI effect for performance variability, with the random group outperforming the blocked group. Neither the random nor blocked groups outperformed the control group, suggesting interference of a second task may be as beneficial to learning as extra practice on the initial task. No group effects were found during transfer performance. Results suggest that random practice is beneficial for learning only one task.

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Tim McGarry, J. Timothy Inglis, and Ian M. Franks

Reduced surface electromyogram (EMG) onsets, observed in some cases when trying to stop an earlier intended action before it begins, were taken to suggest a control process that remains open to stopping right up to the point of motor discharge. This interpretation argues against a final ballistic (involuntary) process in the control of voluntary action. That a final ballistic process may receive reduced input shortly before its manifestation as reduced output (i.e., motor discharge), however, provides for an alternative interpretation of these same data. In this study we used the Hoffmann (H) reflex to further investigate for stopping effects in the brief interval before voluntary motor discharge. Late stopping effects on the facilitated H-reflex within the time window that a final ballistic process would otherwise be expected (i.e, shortly before EMG onset) were observed in some instances. We conclude from these data good evidence against a final ballistic process in the control of voluntary action.

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Ian M. Franks, Robert B. Johnson, and Gary D. Sinclair

A computerized coaching analysis system (CCAS) is described, consisting of a series of systematic observation instruments that allow the collection of behavioral data on both the coach and the athlete. This system is composed of three interactive computer programs that structure the acquisition, immediate analysis, and storage of pertinent observable behaviors displayed by coaches and athletes during a typical coaching practice. Three separate observation instruments are outlined in detail and the discussion of their use centers on the general application of this technology in the sporting milieu.

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Dana Maslovat, Shannon S.D. Bredin, Romeo Chua, and Ian M. Franks

A major component of a dynamical paradigm involves a “scanning” procedure in an attempt to determine an individual’s intrinsic coordination tendencies before learning, as well as subsequent changes in the coordination landscape after practice. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate two methods of the scanning procedure. Scans were performed before and after 75 trials of a 90° bimanual-coordination pattern and were compared with early and late acquisition trials. Four groups of participants performed scanning and acquisition trials using a combination of either concurrent visual feedback in the form of Lissajous figures, paced by an auditory metronome, or visual metronomes in the form of flashing stimuli. Analyses revealed that all groups improved performance of the 90° pattern with practice. As predicted by the theory of practice specificity, scanning via the same method as acquisition appears to be valid. Scanning via Lissajous figures when the acquisition procedure was flashing squares was also found to be valid, but not the opposite condition. Reasons for this unidirectional transfer are given with these results suggesting that the sensitivity of a given scanning method might be influenced by the method of acquiring the coordination pattern.

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Michael A. Khan, Trevor Hale, Michael I. Carry, and Ian M. Franks

The purpose of this research was to examine the role of distance and location information in the production of rapid aiming movements. Participants performed an aiming task consisting of horizontal left-handed elbow flexion movements that translated to movements of a cursor on an oscilloscope screen. The location of the home position and the target on the oscilloscope screen were fixed but me initial angle of the elbow was varied randomly. Participants were informed mat the required distance was always constant. Initial impulse and error correction phases were analyzed to examine whether separate spatial codes for distance and position were used in the control of these two movement phases. The results indicated mat initial impulse endpoints and the final positions of the limb overshot the target from the leftmost starting positions, while they undershot me target from me rightmost starting positions. Also, varying the initial angle of the elbow had a greater influence on me final position of the limb than initial impulse endpoints.

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Michael A. Khan, Gavin P. Lawrence, Ian M. Franks, and Digby Elliott

The purpose of the present study was to establish the contribution of visual feedback in the correction of errors during movement execution (i.e., online) and the utilization of visual feedback from a completed movement in the programming of upcoming trials (i.e., offline). Participants performed 2 dimensional sweeping movements on a digitizing tablet through 1 of 3 targets, which were represented on a video monitor. The movements were performed with and without visual feedback under 4 criterion movement times (150, 250, 350, 450 msec). We analyzed the variability in directional error at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the distance between the home position and the target. There were significant differences in variability between visual conditions at each movement time. However, in the 150-msec condition, the form of the variability profiles did not differ between visual conditions, suggesting that the contribution of visual feedback was due to offline processes. In the 250-, 350-, and 450-msec conditions, there was evidence for both online and offline control, as the form of the variability profiles differed between the vision and no vision conditions.