A Model for Contextual Interference Effects in Motor Learning
There exists substantial evidence that practice under conditions of high contextual interference can facilitate retention and transfer performance (Magill & Hall, 1990). Contextual interference refers to the situation in which there is interference among different tasks being learned across practice trials. Practice under a condition of high contextual interference (e.g., when multiple tasks are practiced in a random order) typically results in less proficient performance than practice under a condition of low contextual interference (e.g., when multiple tasks are practiced in a blocked order). These findings are reversed for retention and transfer tests, however, with performance being more proficient for the high contextual interference practice condition than for the low contextual interference practice condition. This phenomenon has attracted wide interest among motor skill researchers because it is counter to the common assumption that practice in situations with little or no interference is most advantageous for learning. We describe a contextual interference experiment and prevailing explanations for its findings. We then describe a hybrid connectionist model for contextual interference that has been successful in predicting empirical findings.
KeywordsJoint Angle Retention Test Connection Weight Proactive Interference Random Group
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