Watch and Learn: Seeing Is Better than Doing when Acquiring Consecutive Motor Tasks

MSL research field: 
Skill acquisition
TitleWatch and Learn: Seeing Is Better than Doing when Acquiring Consecutive Motor Tasks
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLarssen, BC, Ong, NT, Hodges, NJ
Secondary AuthorsBoraud, T
JournalPLoS ONE
Date Published6/2012
KeywordsAction observation

During motor adaptation learning, consecutive physical practice of two different tasks compromises the retention of the first. However, there is evidence that observational practice, while still effectively aiding acquisition, will not lead to interference and hence prove to be a better practice method. Observers and Actors practised in a clockwise (Task A) followed by a counterclockwise (Task B) visually rotated environment, and retention was immediately assessed. An Observe-all and Act-all group were compared to two groups who both physically practised Task A, but then only observed (ObsB) or did not see or practice Task B (NoB). The two observer groups and the NoB control group better retained Task A than Actors, although importantly only the observer groups learnt Task B. RT data and explicit awareness of the rotation suggested that the observers had acquired their respective tasks in a more strategic manner than Actor and Control groups. We conclude that observational practice benefits learning of multiple tasks more than physical practice due to the lack of updating of implicit, internal models for aiming in the former.

Short TitlePLoS ONE
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Full Text