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Robert W. Christina

By 1967, motor control and learning researchers had adopted an information processing (IP) approach. Central to that research was understanding how movement information was processed, coded, stored, and represented in memory. It also was centered on understanding motor control and learning in terms of Fitts’ law, closed-loop and schema theories, motor programs, contextual interference, modeling, mental practice, attentional focus, and how practice and augmented feedback could be organized to optimize learning. Our constraints-based research from the 1980s into the 2000s searched for principles of “self-organization”, and answers to the degrees-of-freedom problem, that is, how the human motor system with so many independent parts could be controlled without the need for an executive decision maker as proposed by the IP approach. By 2007 we were thinking about where the IP and constraints-based views were divergent and complementary, and whether neural-based models could bring together the behavior and biological mechanisms underlying the processes of motor control and learning.

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Robert W. Christina, Jamie V. Barresi, and Paul Shaffner

This study was undertaken to determine if response selection accuracy could be improved without sacrificing a football linebacker’s response selection speed by practicing his response selection skills in relation to various offensive plays that were seen via a videotape from a viewing angle similar to what he would see in a game. The task required the linebacker to respond to the cues of the tight end and backfield play by manipulating a joystick as accurately and quickly as possible. The data revealed that there was an improvement in response selection accuracy without sacrificing response selection speed. This finding was interpreted as evidence that training using a video-tape that displays a view of plays that is similar to what is seen in a game situation can be an effective method for improving the perceptual skills needed for response selection accuracy by a linebacker in a laboratory setting.