Reducing Knowledge of Results about Relative versus Absolute Timing: Differential Effects on Learning
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The purpose of the present experiment was to examine further earlier suggestions that a reduced relative frequency of knowledge of results (KR) can enhance the learning of generalized motor programs (GMPs) but at the same time degrade parameter learning, compared with giving KR after every trial (Wulf & Schmidt, 1989; Wulf, Schmidt, & Deubel, 1993). In contrast to these earlier studies, here KR was given separately for relative timing and absolute timing. Subjects practiced three movement patterns that required the same relative timing but different absolute movement times. KR was provided on 100% or 50% of the practice trials for relative timing or absolute timing, respectively. In retention and transfer tests, the groups that had had 50% KR about relative timing demonstrated more effective learning of the relative-timing structure, that is, GMP learning, than the groups that had had 100% KR about relative timing. The KR frequency had no effect on parameterization during retention; yet, when transfer to a task with a novel overall duration was required, the groups given 100% KR about absolute timing were more accurate in parameterization than the groups provided with 50% KR about absolute timing. Thus, the reduced relative KR frequency enhanced GMP learning but had no beneficial effect, or even a degrading effect, on parameter learning. The differential effects of a reduced KR frequency on the learning of relative timing and absolute timing also provide additional support for the dissociation of GMP and parameterization processes.
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