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Contextual Interference Effect Depends on the Amount of Time Separating Acquisition and Testing

DOI: 10.4236/ape.2014.42014, PP. 102-109

Keywords: Motor Learning, Practice Schedule, Dart Throwing, Retention Test

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Abstract:

Considering the critical role permanence has on predictions related to the contextual interference effect, this study sought to determine whether the manifestation of the effect depends on the time interval separating the acquisition phase (AQ) from the retention test (RT). Four groups of blocked (BL) and four groups of random practice (RD) performed 90 trials of a dart throwing task (AQ) and were tested exclusively after 10 minutes (BL10 and RD10), 24 hours (BL24 and RD24), 7 days (BL7 and RD7) or 30 days (BL30 and RD30). In the AQ, blocked groups performed three blocks of trials, with each block consisting of throwing the darts from one of three distances (2 m, 2.6 m and 3.2 m). For the random groups, the trial order was pseudo-randomized. The results indicated superior performance of RD24, compared to BL24, but no difference was found between the groups tested after 10 minutes, 7 days or 30 days. Thus, our results do not support the notion that higher contextual interference promotes immediate learning benefits nor long-term retention of internal representations. Nevertheless, future research should further investigate the processes underlying the contextual interference effect, since short-term gains (24 h) were found.

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