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  • Author: Matthew W. Miller x
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Kara K. Palmer, Matthew W. Miller and Leah E. Robinson

A growing body of research has illuminated beneficial effects of a single bout of physical activity (i.e., acute exercise) on cognitive function in school-age children. However, the influence of acute exercise on preschoolers’ cognitive function has not been reported. To address this shortcoming, the current study examined the effects of a 30-min bout of exercise on preschoolers’ cognitive function. Preschoolers’ cognitive function was assessed following a single bout of exercise and a single sedentary period. Results revealed that, after engaging in a bout of exercise, preschoolers exhibited markedly better ability to sustain attention, relative to after being sedentary (p = .006, partial eta square = .400). Based on these findings, providing exercise opportunities appears to enhance preschoolers’ cognitive function.

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Mariane F.B. Bacelar, Keith R. Lohse and Matthew W. Miller

It is unknown whether rewards improve the capability to select appropriate targets for one’s movement (action selection) and/or the movement itself (action execution). Thus, we devised an experimental task wherein participants categorized a complex visual stimulus to determine toward which one of two targets to execute an action (putt a golf ball) on each trial under one of three conditions: reward, punishment, or neutral. After practicing the task under their assigned condition, participants performed an immediate, 24-hr, and 7-day post-test. Results revealed participants putted to the correct target more frequently during the post-tests than the first practice block, and putted more accurately during the post-tests than a pretest. However, the condition in which participants practiced did not moderate post-test performance (for either task component). Additionally, motivation scores explained action selection and action execution for the immediate post-test performance but not long-term retention, suggesting that motivation might be related to immediate performance, but not long-term learning. Further, the present task may be useful for researchers studying action selection and execution, since the task yielded learning effects that could be moderated by factors of interest.

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Jence A. Rhoads, Marcos Daou, Keith R. Lohse and Matthew W. Miller

Expecting to teach and (actually) teaching has been shown to enhance learning academic information, possibly due to increased motivation and engagement. Recently, expecting to teach has been shown to augment motor learning. The present study investigated whether expecting to teach and teaching enhances motor learning, and whether motivation or engagement could explain this effect. Two groups studied/practiced golf putting with the expectation of teaching the skill via video demonstration at the end of practice, while the other two groups studied/practiced without this expectation. Following studying/practice, half of the participants who expected to teach performed a 2-min video demonstration of golf putting (Expect/Teach group). The other participants who expected to teach simply practiced for an additional 2-min (Expect/No Teach group). Similarly, half of the participants who did not expect to teach performed a 2-min video demonstration (No Expect/Teach group), while the other half engaged in additional practice (No Expect/No Teach group). Next, all participants self-reported their motivation and engagement. One day later participants were tested on their putting skills. Results did not reveal an effect of expecting to teach, teaching, or an interaction between these variables. However, exploratory analyses revealed motivation and engagement predicted motor learning, irrespective of group.

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Kirk F. Grand, Marcos Daou, Keith R. Lohse and Matthew W. Miller

The present study investigated whether motivation and augmented feedback processing explain the effect of an incidental choice on motor learning, and examined whether motivation and feedback processing generally predict learning. Accordingly, participants were assigned to one of two groups, choice or yoked, then asked to practice a nondominant arm beanbag toss. The choice group was allowed to choose the color of the beanbag with which they made the toss, whereas the yoked group was not. Motor learning was determined by delayed-posttest accuracy and precision. Motivation and augmented feedback processing were indexed via the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory and electroencephalography, respectively. We predicted the choice group would exhibit greater motor learning, motivation, and augmented feedback processing, and that the latter two variables would predict learning. Results showed that an incidental choice failed to enhance motor learning, motivation, or augmented feedback processing. In addition, neither motivation nor augmented feedback processing predicted motor learning. However, motivation and augmented feedback processing were correlated, with both factors predicting changes in practice performance. Thus, results suggest the effect of incidental choices on motor learning may be tenuous, and indicate motivation and augmented feedback processing may be more closely linked to changes in practice performance than motor learning.

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Amber M. Leiker, Anupriya Pathania, Matthew W. Miller and Keith R. Lohse

Considerable research has been devoted to understanding how intrinsic motivation can augment the learning of motor skills. Many manipulations targeting intrinsic motivation have led to improved learning, but the mechanisms underlying this effect are not known. Replicating a previous study, we manipulated intrinsic motivation by giving one group self-control over the difficulty of practice, while a control group was yoked to that schedule. We collected measures of intrinsic motivation, engagement, and physiological measures related to dopamine (spontaneous eye-blink rate; sEBR) and approach motivation (frontal alpha asymmetry; FAS) to understand mechanisms underlying learning effects. Although the effect of self-control was not significant in the current experiment, the overall result was statistically significant when combined with the results of our previous study. Overall, there is evidence for a benefit of self-control during practice, but the true effect-size is smaller than initially estimated. Furthermore, even though self-control led to increased intrinsic motivation in the current experiment, individual differences in motivation were not correlated with learning. Similarly, neither sEBR nor FAS were related to learning. Taking a cumulative view, these data suggest that self-control of practice is beneficial to both learning and motivation, but increased motivation does not appear to directly cause improved learning.

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Marcos Daou, Taylor L. Buchanan, Kyle R. Lindsey, Keith R. Lohse and Matthew W. Miller

There is some evidence that people learn academic (declarative) information better when studying with the expectation of having to teach, but this has not been demonstrated for perceptual-motor skills, which also rely on declarative information but more heavily on procedural knowledge. To address this possibility, participants studied golf-putting instructions and practiced putting with the expectation of having to teach another participant how to putt or the expectation of being tested on their putting. One day later, learning was assessed by testing all participants on their golf putting. Results revealed that expecting to teach enhanced learning, even after controlling for the amount of studying and practicing. Therefore, we have presented the first findings that expecting to teach enhances motor learning. Taking these findings together with similar studies focusing on declarative information, we suggest that expecting to teach yields a general learning benefit to different types of skills.

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Matthieu P. Boisgontier, Dan Orsholits, Martina von Arx, Stefan Sieber, Matthew W. Miller, Delphine Courvoisier, Maura D. Iversen, Stéphane Cullati and Boris Cheval

Background: Adverse childhood experiences, depressive symptoms, and functional dependence are interrelated. However, the mechanisms underlying these associations remain unclear. The authors investigated the potential of depressive symptoms to mediate the effect of adverse childhood experiences on functional dependence in older age and whether physical activity moderated this mediation. Method: Data from 25,775 adults aged 62 (9) years from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe were used in adjusted linear mixed-effects models to test whether depressive symptoms mediated the associations between adverse childhood experiences and functional dependence in activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL (IADL) and whether physical activity moderated these mediations. Results: The results showed a graded association between the number of adverse childhood experiences (0 vs 1 and 0 vs ≥2) and the number of functional limitations in both ADL (bs = 0.040 and 0.067) and IADL (bs = 0.046 and 0.076). These associations were mediated by depressive symptoms. Physical activity reduced the effect of adverse childhood experiences on depressive symptoms (bs = −0.179 and −0.515) and tempered the effect of depressive symptoms on functional dependence both in ADL (b = −0.073) and IADL (b = −0.100). As a result of these reductions, the effect of adverse childhood experiences and depressive symptoms on functional dependence in ADL (Ps > .081) and IADL (Ps > .528) was nonsignificant in physically active participants. Conclusions: These findings suggest that, after age 50, engaging in physical activity more than once a week protects functional independence from the detrimental effects of adverse childhood experiences and depression. In inactive individuals, the detrimental effects of adverse childhood experiences on functional dependence are mediated by depressive symptoms.