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Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, David A. Wittrock, Robert J. Smith and William Monson

We propose that training athletes to use certain cognitive-behavioral procedures, “criticism inoculation training” (CIT), could enable them to circumvent the adverse effects of excessively negativistic coaching. This experiment evaluated the efficacy of one potential CIT strategy, positive self-monitoring (systematically observing and recording instances of success). A laboratory paradigm was used in which 60 male college students attempted to learn the underhand free throw basketball technique from one of four undergraduate pseudocoaches. Subjects were randomly assigned to four groups determined by a 2 (negative vs. no feedback) × 2 (positive vs. no self-monitoring) factorial design. Negative feedback was expected to debilitate, while positive self-monitoring was expected to facilitate performance, sustained self-observation of videotapes of performance, and subjective evaluations of the “coach” and the technique. Negative feedback clearly produced extensive adverse effects, but surprisingly, positive self-monitoring also decreased performance. Theories of skilled motor behavior (MacKay, 1982) and self-regulation (Carver, 1979) helped explain why positive self-monitoring failed as a CIT procedure. This interpretation which focuses on the novelty of the task and the development of negative expectancies also led to suggestions of strategies that could more effectively fulfill the promise of the CIT concept.

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Yi-An Chen, Yu-Chen Chung, Rachel Proffitt, Eric Wade and Carolee Winstein

Attention during exercise is known to affect performance; however, the attentional demand inherent to virtual reality (VR)-based exercise is not well understood. We used a dual-task paradigm to compare the attentional demands of VR-based and non-VR-based (conventional, real-world) exercise: 22 older adults (with no diagnosed disabilities) performed a primary reaching task to virtual and real targets in a counterbalanced block order while verbally responding to an unanticipated auditory tone in one third of the trials. The attentional demand of the primary reaching task was inferred from the voice response time (VRT) to the auditory tone. Participants’ engagement level and task experience were also obtained using questionnaires. The virtual target condition was more attention demanding (significantly longer VRT) than the real target condition. Secondary analyses revealed a significant interaction between engagement level and target condition on attentional demand. For participants who were highly engaged, attentional demand was high and independent of target condition. However, for those who were less engaged, attentional demand was low and depended on target condition (i.e., virtual > real). These findings add important knowledge to the growing body of research pertaining to the development and application of technology-enhanced exercise for older adults and for rehabilitation purposes.

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Stacy Winter and Dave Collins

Priming has recently emerged in the literature as offering advantages in the preparation for skilled performance. Accordingly, the current study tested the efficacy of imagery against a priming paradigm as a means of enhancing motor performance: in essence, contrasting a preparation technique primarily under the conscious control of the performer to an unconscious technique promoting automaticity. The imagery intervention was guided by the PETTLEP model, while the priming intervention took the form of a scrambled sentence task. Eighteen skilled field-hockey players performed a dribbling task under imagery, priming, skill-focus, and control conditions. Results revealed a significant improvement in speed and technical accuracy for the imagery condition as opposed to the skill-focus, control, and priming conditions. In addition, there were no significant differences in performance times or technical accuracy between the priming and control conditions. The study provides further support for the efficacy of imagery to elicit enhanced motor skill performance but questions the emerging emphasis on priming as an effective tool in preparation for physical tasks.

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Deborah Dewey and Lawrence R. Brawley

A major research limitation in investigating the validity of the TAIS has been the failure to distinguish when attentional style has an effect on the information processing system, early as in encoding or late after processing. Few investigations have examined the TAIS predictive validity in a controlled setting wherein task attention demands can be systematically and accurately varied. Does the general trait of attentional style really have anything to do with how attention related information is processed? The present study examined this question using a valid attention theory (Treisman's feature integration theory) and a visual search paradigm. When the TAIS attentional-style scales were correlated with visual search rate for attention demanding targets, no significant relationships were observed. Specifically, TAIS scales did not relate to visual search rate for an attention demanding target, the performance of subjects extreme in search rate, or the central to peripheral slowing of search time in target detection. The factorial validity of the TAIS was also questioned. It was concluded that the attentional-style scales were not valid in predicting how attention related visual information is processed. The importance of distinguishing when attentional style might be operating in the information processing system was emphasized for future research.

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Fabien Cignetti, Sébastien Caudron, Marianne Vaugoyeau and Christine Assaiante

There is evidence that adolescence is a critical period in development, most likely involving important modifications of the body schema and of the sensorimotor representations. The present study addressed this issue, by investigating the differences between adolescents and adults regarding the integration of proprioceptive information at both perceptual and postural levels and the visual recognition of human movement. Proprioceptive integration was examined using muscle-tendon vibration that evoked either a postural response or an illusory sensation of movement. The ability to recognize human movement was investigated from a paradigm where the participants had to discern between human movements performed with and without gravity. The study produced three main findings. First, the adolescents had larger postural responses to tendon vibrations than the adults, with visual information enabling them to reduce this exaggerated postural reaction. Second, the adolescents had a greater illusory perception of movement compared with the adults. Third, the adolescents had the same perceptual ability as adults in the human movement perception task. In conclusion, we were able to highlight notable differences between adolescents and young adults, which confirms the late maturation of multisensory integration for postural control and the privileged visual contribution to postural control.

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Michaela B. Upshaw and Jessica Sommerville

Previous research demonstrates that infants adapt and plan their actions based on object weight, but fewer studies have investigated how infants’ understanding of object weight shapes their understanding of physical events. The present study investigates 10-month-old infants’ understanding of the effect of object weight in support events—specifically, that object weight impacts whether a supporting surface will become compressed or not—and its relation to motor development. In Experiment 1, using an action task, we found that infants infer an object’s weight based on whether it compresses a supporting surface, as demonstrated by reaches to the light object following the support event. In Experiment 2, using a violation-of-expectation paradigm, we found that infants generate predictions for the outcome of support events involving heavy and light objects (i.e., they expect heavy, but not light, objects to compress a supporting surface), as demonstrated by longer looking to inconsistent events relative to consistent. Neither experiment found relations with infants’ motor development. These findings demonstrate that infants invoke a concept of object weight when interpreting and predicting the outcomes of physical events and that the ability to reason about object weight as a causal factor in physical events is relatively sophisticated in infancy.

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Shannon D.R. Ringenbach, Kristina Zimmerman, Chih Chia Chen, Genna M. Mulvey, Simon D. Holzapfel, Daniel J. Weeks and Michael H. Thaut

The present study used a synchronization-continuation paradigm during continuous bimanual drumming with different cues in 17 persons with Down syndrome, eight typical persons with similar mental age and eight typical persons with similar chronological age. The task required participants to hit two drums with their hands at the same time following music (e.g., a tune with various decibel drum beats), auditory (e.g., sound of drumbeat), verbal (e.g., voice saying “drum”), and visual (e.g., video of both hands moving up and down and hitting the drums together) cues for 10 seconds, then continue drumming in the absence of cues for another 10 seconds. In general, when all groups were following the music cues their movements were faster as compared with their movements in the auditory, verbal, and visual conditions. In addition, when following visual cues all groups produced more accurate and consistently coordinated movements than with the other cue types. Further, participants with Down syndrome often stopped moving when the pacing cues were eliminated indicating a need for continuous cues for continuous movements.

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Keith Lohse, Taylor Buchanan and Matthew Miller

Appropriate statistical analysis is essential for accurate and reliable research. Statistical practices have an immediate impact on the perceived results of a single study but also remote effects on the dissemination of information among scientists and the cumulative nature of research. To accurately quantify potential problems facing the field of motor learning, we systematically reviewed publications from seven journals over the past 2 years to find experiments that tested the effects of different training conditions on delayed retention and transfer tests (i.e., classic motor learning paradigms). Eighteen studies were included. These studies had small sample sizes (Mdn n/group = 11.00, interquartile range [IQR]= 9.6–15.5), multiple dependent variables (Mdn = 2, IQR = 2–4), and many statistical tests per article (Mdn = 83.5, IQR = 55.8–112.5). The observed effect sizes were large (d = 0.71, IQR = 0.49, 1.11). However, the distribution of effect sizes was biased, t(16) = 3.48, p < .01. These metadata indicate problems with the way motor learning research is conducted (or at least published). We recommend several potential solutions to address these issues: a priori power calculations, prespecified analyses, data sharing, and dissemination of null results. Furthermore, we hope these data will spark serious action from all stakeholders (researchers, editorial boards, and publishers) in the field.

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Daniel Gould, Linda Petlichkoff, Jeff Simons and Mel Vevera

This study examined whether linear or curvilinear (inverted-U) relationships exist between Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2 subscale scores and pistol shooting performance in a paradigm that addressed previous design, methodological, and data analysis problems. Officers (N = 39) from the University of Illinois Police Training Institute served as subjects and participated in a pistol shooting competition. Each subject shot on five separate occasions, immediately after completing the CSAI-2 (Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1983), a multidimensional measure of state anxiety. It was predicted that cognitive state anxiety would be more related to performance than would somatic state anxiety. However, relationships between both types of anxiety and performance were predicted to support inverted-U as opposed to linear relationships. Self-confidence was predicted to be positively related to performance. Results were analyzed using the intraindividual analysis procedures recommended by Sonstroem and Bernardo (1982) and showed that cognitive anxiety was not related to performance, somatic anxiety was related to performance in a curvilinear (inverted-U) fashion, and confidence was negatively related to performance.

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Jamie E. L. Spinney, Hugh Millward and Darren Scott


Walking is the most common physical activity for adults with important implications for urban planning and public health. Recreational walking has received considerably more attention than walking for transport, and differences between them remain poorly understood.


Using time-use data collected from 1971 randomly-chosen adults in Halifax, Canada, we identified walking for transport and walking for recreation events, and then computed participation rates, occurrences, mean event durations, and total daily durations in order to examine the participants and timing, while the locations were examined using origin-destination matrices. We compared differences using McNemar’s test for participation rates, Wilcoxon test for occurrences and durations, and Chi-Square test for locations.


Results illustrate many significant differences between the 2 types of walking, related to participants, timing, and locations. For example, results indicate a daily average of 3.1 walking for transport events, each lasting 8 minutes on average, compared with 1.4 recreational walking events lasting 39 minutes on average. Results also indicate more than two-thirds of recreational walks are home-based, compared with less than one-fifth of transport walks.


This research highlights the importance of both types of walking, while also casting suspicion on the traditional home-based paradigm used to measure “walkability.”