Raisbeck, Louisa D., Regal, Alison, Diekfuss, Jed A., Rhea, Christopher K. and Ward, Paul (2015) Influence of practice schedules and attention on skill development and retention. Human Movement Science, 43. pp. 100-106. ISSN 0167-9457

Focus of attention during dual-tasks and practice schedules are important components of motor skill performance and learning; often studied in isolation. The current study required participants to complete a simple key-pressing task under a blocked or random practice schedule. To manipulate attention, participants reported their finger position (i.e., skill-focused attention) or the pitch of an auditory tone (i.e., extraneous attention) while performing two variations of a dual-task key-pressing task. Analyses were conducted at baseline, 10 min and 24 h after acquisition. The results revealed that participants in a blocked schedule, extraneous focus condition had significantly faster movement times during retention compared to a blocked schedule, skill focus condition. Furthermore, greatest improvements from baseline to immediate and delayed retention were evident for an extraneous attention compared to the skill-focused attention, regardless of practice schedule. A discussion of the unique benefits an extraneous focus of attention may have on the learning process during dual-task conditions is presented.

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