Attention focusing instructions and coordination bias: Implications for learning a novel bimanual task

MSL research field: 
Skill acquisition
TitleAttention focusing instructions and coordination bias: Implications for learning a novel bimanual task
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsHodges, NJ, Franks, IM
JournalHuman Movement Science
Pagination843 - 867

Four groups learnt a novel bimanual coordination movement pattern under instructions designed to manipulate focus of attention. It was predicted that instructions directing attention onto the effects of the action would facilitate learning. Three groups received demonstrations of the required 90° relative phase movement. Two of the demonstration groups also received instruction directing attention either towards the feedback (EXTERNAL), or the relationship between their arm movements and the feedback (RELATION). The third group received no attention directing instructions (DEMO). A final group was only provided with goal relevant feedback (NO DEMO). A scanning task enabled coordination bias to be assessed pre-practice. This was conducted to ensure task novelty and assign participants equally across groups based on strength of bias to in- and/or anti-phase. Acquisition rate was slower for the DEMO only group, especially compared to the EXTERNAL group. Additionally, participants biased to in-phase (as compared to anti-phase) during the scanning trial also showed high error early in practice. These differences remained in retention. Irrespective of feedback condition the DEMO group evidenced the most error in retention. However, all groups were affected by the removal of on-line feedback, although the attention-directing instructions provided during practice somewhat decreased the negative effects associated with feedback removal. Overall, the in-phase-biased participants were most affected by withdrawal of feedback. It was concluded that movement demonstrations alone do not facilitate learning of a novel coordination task, unless additional goal-directed instruction is provided. Additionally, individual differences in coordination bias pre-practice can be used to predict learning rate and quality.

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