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Timothy D. Coleman, Haley J. Lawrence and W. Lee Childers

This research tested a reproducible uneven walkway designed to destabilize human gait. Ten participants walked 30 times over even and uneven (7.3 × .08 m, sequentially-placed wooden blocks in a rotating pattern, 1-cm thick rubber mat) walkways. A full-body marker set and 8-camera motion capture system recorded limb kinematics. MatLab 2013b was used to calculate measures of gait stability: angular momentum, margin of stability, step width variability, CoM height, toe clearance, lateral arm swing. The minimum number of strides necessary to minimize intraparticipant variability was calculated via the interquartile range/median ratio (IMR) at 25% and 10% thresholds for each measure. A paired t test tested for significance between terrains (P < .05). The uneven walkway significantly destabilized gait as seen by increases in: coronal and sagittal plane angular momentum, step width variability, and toe clearance. We found no significant difference with the margin of stability between the 2 terrains possibly due to compensatory strategies (eg, lateral arm swing, trunk sway, step width). Recording a minimum of 10 strides per subject will keep each variable between the 25% and 10% IMR thresholds. In conclusion, the uneven walkway design significantly destabilizes human gait and at least 10 strides should be collected per subject.

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Jacqueline M. Edwards, Digby Elliott and Timothy D. Lee

An experiment is reported that investigated the effects of contextual interference on motor skill acquisition, and transfer of training in Down’s syndrome adolescents. Twenty Down’s syndrome adolescents and 20 nonhandicapped mental age controls learned a coincident anticipation timing task using either a random or a blocked training schedule. For transfer to a novel but similar task, subjects from both populations evidenced beneficial effects due to random practice. These data are discussed in terms of recent developments for strategy enhancement in motor learning by mentally retarded individuals.

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Katherine M. Keetch, Timothy D. Lee and Richard A. Schmidt

Recent evidence suggests that massive amounts of practice of the basketball free throw (a “set shot”) results in the development of a specific memory representation that is unique to this one shot distance and angle, and that is distinct from set shots taken at locations other than the free throw line. We termed this unique capability an especial skill. In this article, we review the evidence and provide new data regarding the existence of especial skills. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for motor control theory and in terms of the broader context of specificity versus generality in the learning of motor skills.

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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.