Psychological Research

, Volume 76, Issue 5, pp 611–625

Practice makes transfer of motor skills imperfect

Authors

  • Arnaud Boutin
    • National Centre of Scientific Research, Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition et l’Apprentissage, CeRCA, CNRS UMR 6234, MSHS. Bât A5University of Poitiers
  • Arnaud Badets
    • National Centre of Scientific Research, Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition et l’Apprentissage, CeRCA, CNRS UMR 6234, MSHS. Bât A5University of Poitiers
  • Robin N. Salesse
    • National Centre of Scientific Research, Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition et l’Apprentissage, CeRCA, CNRS UMR 6234, MSHS. Bât A5University of Poitiers
  • Udo Fries
    • Department of Human Movement ScienceUniversity of Leipzig
  • Stefan Panzer
    • IfADo, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors
    • National Centre of Scientific Research, Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition et l’Apprentissage, CeRCA, CNRS UMR 6234, MSHS. Bât A5University of Poitiers
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00426-011-0355-2

Cite this article as:
Boutin, A., Badets, A., Salesse, R.N. et al. Psychological Research (2012) 76: 611. doi:10.1007/s00426-011-0355-2

Abstract

We investigated the practice-effects on motor skill transfer and the associated representational memory changes that occur during the within-practice and between-practice phases. In two experiments, participants produced extension–flexion movements with their dominant right arm for a limited or prolonged practice session arranged in either a single- or multi-session format. We tested the ability of participants to transfer the original pattern (extrinsic transformation) or the mirrored one (intrinsic transformation) to the non-dominant left arm, 10 min and 24 h after the practice sessions. Results showed that practice induces rapid motor skill improvements that are non-transferable irrespective of the amount of acquisition trials. Furthermore, the extrinsic component of the skill develops early and remains the dominant coding system during practice. Conversely, we found distinct between-practice memory changes: a limited practice induces an off-line development of the extrinsic component, whereas a prolonged practice session subserves the off-line development of the intrinsic component (Experiment 2). We provided further evidence that the long-term representation of the motor skill also depends on the nature of the practice session itself: the parsing of practice into multiple sessions narrows the effector-transfer capacities in comparison to a single session (Experiment 1). These findings yield theoretical and practical implications that are discussed in the context of recent motor skill learning models.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011