Chunking, Conscious Processing, and EEG During Sequence Acquisition and Performance Pressure: A Comprehensive Test of Reinvestment Theory

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Bangor University
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This study was designed to test the theorized link between reinvestment, motor chunks, and conscious processing, to provide a thorough examination of reinvestment theory. The authors measured electroencephalographic power and connectivity alongside self-reported conscious processing and behavioral indices of chunking in a 2 (group) × 5 (block) mixed-model design. A total of 55 individuals acquired a motor sequence (blocks A1, A2, A3, and A4) by relatively explicit (errorful) or implicit (errorless) paradigms. Then they performed in a pressure condition (block T). Results confirmed that chunking characterizes both modes of acquisition. However, explicit acquisition resulted in quicker chunking, reduced conscious processing, and increased cortical efficiency (left-temporal high-alpha power). In support of reinvestment theory, self-reported conscious processing tended to increase under pressure among explicit trainees only. In contrast to reinvestment theory, this had no adverse effect on performance. The results endorse explicit acquisition as an effective mode of training and provide a new neurophysiological explanation of this phenomenon.

The authors are with the Inst. for the Psychology of Elite Performance (IPEP), School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, United Kingdom.

Bellomo ( is corresponding author.

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