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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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Saša Krstulović, Andrea De Giorgio, Óscar DelCastillo Andrés, Emerson Franchini, and Goran Kuvačić

considerable decrease in the risk of fall-related injuries. In the motor learning field, numerous factors can influence the efficacy of skill practice. One of the learning phenomena that occurs during multiple skills practice is the contextual interference effect (CI). The interference is created when motor

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Guilherme M. Lage, Larissa O. Faria, Natália F.A. Ambrósio, Athos M.P. Borges, and Tércio Apolinário-Souza

In the motor learning area, the term “contextual interference effect” is defined as the degree of functional interference found on learning when multiple tasks are practiced together ( Magill & Hall, 1990 ). Contextual interference effect is not a directly quantifiable construct. The level of

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Sarah Taylor, Bradley Fawver, Joseph L. Thomas, A. Mark Williams, and Keith R. Lohse

, termed contextual interference (CI), explains superior learning as a function of the level of interference that occurs during practice. Random practice schedules create interference because one must switch between different tasks (e.g., ACB–BCA–CAB) during practice, whereas blocked practice leads to

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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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David L. Porretta

This study investigated the effects of contextual interference on the immediate transfer and 2-day retention of a bean bag tossing task by mildly mentally handicapped children. A total of 24 boys and 24 girls with a mean chronological age of 10.2 years were randomly assigned to either a blocked, serial, or random practice condition. Following 48 practice trials with bean bags of various weights, subjects were transferred to two novel weighted bean bags. Both transfer and retention analyses showed that subjects in the random practice condition exhibited less error than subjects in either the blocked or serial practice conditions. However, these differences were not significant. Boys performed with significantly less error than girls on both transfer and retention, while regardless of gender, the heavier weighted bean bag resulted in significantly less error on transfer only. Results provide marginal support for the contention that greater contextual interference (random practice) leads to better transfer and retention than other types of practice conditions.

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Mary A. Painter, Kathleen B. Inman, and William J. Vincent

The effects of contextual interference on motor skill acquisition and retention were examined in 24 subjects (mean age 13.9 years) with mild mental retardation and 24 chronologically age-matched subjects (mean age 13.11 years) with no disabilities. Subjects from each group were assigned randomly to either a blocked or a random practice schedule. All subjects performed 15 practice trials for each of three different beanbag throwing tasks, 45 trials total. Following a 10-min filled retention interval, 2 trials of each throw (6 total) were performed in a random order by all subjects. Accuracy scores were measured as absolute error from the target. The data revealed a significant interaction between ability groups and practice schedule. Post hoc analyses revealed that the retention scores of the mildly mentally handicapped subjects practicing under blocked conditions were significantly less accurate than scores of any of the other three acquisition groups. Significant effects in variable error retention scores indicated that subjects in the random practice condition performed more consistently than subjects in the blocked condition.

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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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April Karlinsky and Nicola J. Hodges

Giving learners a choice over how to schedule practice benefits motor learning. Here we studied peer scheduling to determine whether this benefit is related to the adaptive nature of practice or decisions about how to switch between skills. Forty-eight participants were paired and assigned to self- or peer-scheduled groups. Within each pair, one person (Actor) physically practiced 3 keystroke sequences, each with different timing goals. Self-scheduled Actors chose the sequence before each practice trial while their Partner watched. Peer-scheduled Actors had their practice directed by their Partner. Both peer schedulers and self-schedulers showed performance-dependent practice, making decisions to switch based on timing error. However, peer schedulers generally chose to switch more than self-schedulers although this was not related to retention for either group. Importantly, self-scheduled Actors did not differ in retention from peer-scheduled Actors, but the Actors generally performed with lower error in retention than that of their partners. Peer-scheduled practice was rated as more motivating and enjoyable than self-scheduled practice. In view of the lack of difference in retention and the positive ratings of peer-scheduled practice, we conclude that it is the adaptive nature of practice that is important for learning and that peer-directed practice is an effective alternative practice method to self-directed practice.

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Mohsen Shafizadeh, Shahab Parvinpour, and Andrew Barnes

power law of practice (quantity of practice); the transfer of learning/practice representativeness (similarity on skills and contexts); implicit and explicit methods (overt and covert attention); the practice organization in terms of activity/rest ratio (mass and distributed); contextual interference