Cognitive effort in contextual interference and implicit motor learning

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Rendell, Megan A (2010) Cognitive effort in contextual interference and implicit motor learning. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The broad aim of this dissertation was to explore the paradoxical accounts of contextual interference and implicit motor learning from the perspective of cognitive effort. Three key outcomes have emerged. First, from a theoretical perspective, the thesis offers a previously unexplored account for the contextual interference effect – one that potentially explains the paradoxical findings between contextual interference and implicit learning – the implicit learning hypothesis. The hypothesis states that random practice might share characteristics with implicit learning. High levels of cognitive effort due to task switching might prevent random learners from consciously focusing on their movements leading to a more passive mode of learning. Second, from a practical perspective, the thesis provides support for the application of implicit motor learning to performers who already possess explicit knowledge. Expert netball players practised shooting to an adapted ring while responding to a secondary task. Following the intervention, players were unaware of the knowledge underlying their technique adaptation, thus providing preliminary evidence for the use of implicit motor learning in high performance sport. Finally, from a methodological perspective, the thesis laid the foundation for the future development of measurement techniques for both cognitive effort and implicit/explicit processing. A battery of measures typically applied to implicit learning was used in a study of contextual interference. In addition, a behavioural measure of cognitive effort (time taken to prepare and execute movements) was explored in blocked and random practice. Furthermore, two experiments explored the use of a modified Stroop task as a potential measure of implicit/explicit processing. Overall, the thesis contributes to both the contextual interference and implicit motor learning research domains through advances in the areas of theory, practice, and methodology.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Keywords cognitive effort, contextual interference, implicit motor learning
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