Principles of Motor Learning: Practice Conditions

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Variability in practice increases ______ and ______
learning and generalizability
McCracken & Stelmach: Variable vs. Constant Practice experiment (Methods)
-4 Constant groups – had to hit ball into barrier placed either 15, 35, 60, or 65cm away
-1 Variable group – barriers placed 15, 35, 60, and 65cm randomly
-All groups practiced 300 trials/day
–> Transfer training – all groups had barrier placed 50cm
Variable vs. Constant Practice experiment (Results)
Constant groups had less errors, BUT the Variable groups had less errors during transfer training

(active learning)

Variable practice allows the subjects to ________ the task more effectively
Variable practice facilitated more _____________ of the skill
Goode & Magill: Blocked vs. Random Practice experiment (methods)
Practice 3 different badminton serves, 3x/wk, 36 trials in each session, for 3 weeks = total 324 trials
Blocked Practice group- practiced 1 serve each day of the week
Random Practice group- practiced all 3 serves in random order each day
Blocked vs. Random Practice experiment (results)
Random practice group did not do as well in performance but had more accurate/better transfer and retention phase.
Deeper cognitive processing seems to degrade _______________ but enhance ____________
initial performance; retention
_____________ that make a task more difficult initially seem to help learning in the long run.
This concept is called ________________.
Context factors; contextual interference
A ______________ condition is an example of contextural interference.
random practice

LOOK AT PAGE 377 in book.

Who did the experiment with Stroke patients and random vs. blocked groups?
Hanlon’s Stroke experiment:
Method + Results
Random group, Block group, and Control group

-Used hemiplegic arm of stroke pts to reach and open an OH cabinet, take cup out, put it down
-Block group- did this task over and over again
-Random group- did this task and then pointed somewhere or touched something, did task + “some activity”
-Control group- did nothing

Results: Random group did better at retaining than blocked or control group

Prosthetic Simulator
Both Groups: improved in movement time, were similar in the ability to retain learning

Random Practice Group: was significantly better in performing the new tasks required in the transfer test

–> Greater Generalizability

Who did the experiment on task practice order on adults with Parkinson’s Disease?
Experiment of Adults with Parkinson’s Disease (Methods)
Adults with PD (and age-matched controls)
-Given three versions of the pattern = 3 different tasks, randomized
Experiment of Adults with Parkinson’s Disease (Results)
During training: Overall – controls had less errors than those with PD

-Controls practicing with random practice were more accurate than those practicing with blocked practice
-Results reversed for PD, practicing with blocked practiced is more accurate than those practicing with random practice

Why do people with Parkinson’s Disease do better with blocked practice?
People with PD have difficulty learning sequential tasks and have difficulty switching sequences –> blocked practice works better
_________ practice works for Stroke pts.
_________ practice works for PD pts.
randomized; blocked

*Findings in healthy subjects may or may not relate to patient populations — Hanlon’s article (stroke) transferred but PD did not transfer

What is a Massed practice schedule?
Fewer practice sessions than a distributed schedule — with each session requiring longer practice.

i.e.- 700 trials 3 days in a row, Constraint -Reduced Movement therapy

What is a Distributed practice schedule?
Distributed the same amount of practice across more sessions — each session is shorter

Hypothesize that we need time to consolidate this new mov’t pattern (like sleeping on it) and time b/t practice

On going controversy regarding ________ vs ________ practice.
massed; distributed
How should we deliver these dosage?
We really do not know. Really.

SO…..we don’t know WHICH (massed or distributed) is better and WHICH DOSING is better!

What is transfer of training/transfer of learning?
The influence that the practice of one task has on some other subsequent task
What is the Specificity of Practice principle?
The more closely the demands in the practice environment resemble those in the actual environment – the better the practice
Who did the experiment on Specificity of Practice and Specificity of Training? And what was the purpose?
To examine the effect of training program on sitting balance after stroke…does improvement in sitting balance transfer to STS and gait?
Specificity of Practice (methods)
2 groups- sat on stool with work table in front of them and had to reach for objects in front of them
Experimental Group:
-Varied distance and direction of reach
-Varied weight of the object
-Varied seat height and extent of thigh support
-Speed of movement
-Varied number of reps
Control Group:
-Manipulated task within arms reach
-Reps increased
-Complexity of tasks increased
Specificity of Training (results)
Experimental group:
-Reached further and faster (had practice with this)
-Increased load on their lower extremity
-Increased muscle activation in the lower extremity
-Improved sit to stand
-NO improvement in ambulation

Control Group also no improvement in amb.

Why was there no improvement in ambulation in Dean’s experiment?
Walking is a different task!
You get what you train for
STS has similar task requirements to this experiment

Also, Dynamic weight-shifting in side-to-side plane does not mean weight-shifting during ambulation

What is part-task training?
Practice on some components of the whole task as pre-training for performance of the whole task
What is adaptive training?
the learner starts with a less difficult version of the task and gradually transitions to the more difficult version.

i.e.- training wheels on a bike, walker to quad cane to reg cane

Who did an experiment on Part-Practice specificity of training?
Part-practice specificity of training (methods)
2 groups of post-stroke pts with ongoing PT
-subjects performed weight-shifting on a balance board-type object
-group received additional weight-shifting therapy on hemiplegic leg
Part-practice specificity of training (results)
Both groups demonstrated improvement in ambulation

-the group that received additional weight-shifting therapy demonstrated a more symmetrical standing posture
-but the weight shifting group did not show greater improvement in ambulation

What is mental practice?
Asking a subject to spend a lot of time thinking about or imagining the action being performed without producing any action.
Mental practice could be an important tool in facilitating __________ of a motor skill.
Who did the experiment on mental practice task?
Maring’s mental practice task (methods)
Groups must toss ball onto target with EMG attached to their arm — looking at flexors and extensors.

-Control Group tossed 10x, rest, then practiced again, memorized a poem during rest periods
-Experimental Group did same thing but during rest periods though about how it felt to toss the ball, their accuracy, mentally rehearsed the toss

Maring’s mental practice task (results)
Experimental Group did better with mental rehearsing — improved accuracy over trials
Changes in muscle activity reflect a more _________ firing pattern.
Decrease in ____________ from the onset of muscle activity to peak muscle activity.
firing time
Increase in time between onset of _________ activity to onset of ___________ activity.
agonist; antagonist
What are 3 explanations for benefit of mental practice?
1) cognitive elements
2) motor program executed with low gain
3) supplementary cortex activated during mental practice

Cognitive (repetitively thinking about and rehearsing the movement), Executed with low gain (your muscles are firing at low gain–not visible– during mental practice).

Describe Roland’s experiment with finger movement and brain activity.
-Simple finger flexion/extension: motor and sensory cortex are active
-More complex finger mov’t: motor, somatosensory, and supplementary motor cortex active
-Mentally rehearing and no mov’t: supplementary motor cortex is active
What area of the brain is active during planning of movement?
supplementary motor cortex
Who did the experiment of application of mental practice in a normal population?
Sidaway & Trzaska
Application of mental practice: Aim of the study was to determine whether mental practice could produce ____________________
strength gains in the ankle dorsiflexor muscles
Application of mental practice (Methods)
24 healthy young adults
-8 physical practice group, 8 mental practice group, 8 control group

-Each subjects ability to produce a maximal torque using the dorsiflexor muscles was measured using a Biodex, either physically or mentally practiced the mov’t
-mental practice group was given scripted instructions, they were attached to dynamometer to ensure no torque generated
-All subjects performed 3 sets/10 3x/week/4weeks

Application of mental practice (Results)
25% improvement for the physical practice group
17% improvement for the mental practice group
-1.77% for the control group

8% difference but not statistically sig. — might be USEFUL AS AN ADJUNCT to traditional treatment options

What is Guidance?
A technique often used in therapy

The learner is PHYSICALLY GUIDED through the task to be learned.

Manual Guidance is often used to encourage symmetrical ___________
Sidaway’s Manual Guidance experiment (Purpose)
Study compared the effect of providing 2 frequencies of manual guidance and 2 frequencies of KR to 40 healthy subjects.
Sidaway’s Manual Guidance experiment (Methods)
4 Healthy Groups: 100% guidance, 33% guidance, 100% KR, 33% KR
-Task was to learn to distribute their weight on their feet in 70:30 ratio (on scale only seen by experimenter)
-Guidance conditions – subjects were positioned by the researcher into correct position (get target ratio w/o seeing scale)
-KR condition – verbally provided with KR regarding the %age of body weight on each foot
Sidaway’s Manual Guidance experiment (Results)
Most accurate performance = 33% KR group
Poorest learners = 100% Guidance
In middle = 100% Kr and 33% Guidance

–> Best performance with knowledge of results 1/3 of the time –> feedback/guidance is important

Practice in an unguided condition is more beneficial for __________
Conditions which make the acquisition of the skill more ________ appear to enhance the _________ and retention of the skill.
difficult; learning
What behavioral components were required to drive the plasticity? — Neural Plasticity Paradigms
1) Intensive, repetitive
2) Required skill development in a specific task
3) Adaptive – programmed incremental changes
4) Motivating Rewards
What behavioral components were required to drive the plasticity? — Motor Learning Paradigms
1) hundreds of practice trials
2) practice in specific task to facilitate skill development
3) feedback in many different forms = inherent component of reward system

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