Extended practice of reciprocal wrist and arm movements of varying difficulties. Academic Article uri icon


  • An experiment was designed to determine the degree to which reciprocal aiming movements of the wrist and arm with various accuracy requirements (Fitts' tasks) are enhanced by extended practice. The vast majority of research on motor learning shows performance improvement over practice. However, literature examining the effect of practice on Fitts' task performance is limited and inconclusive. Participants were asked to flex/extend their limb/lever in the horizontal plane at the wrist (arm stabilized) or elbow joint (wrist stabilized) in an attempt to move back and forth between two targets as quickly and accurately as possible. The targets and current position of the limb were projected on the screen in front of the participant. Target width was manipulated with amplitude constant (16) in order to create indexes of difficulty (ID) of 1.5, 3, 4.5, and 6. Contrary to the earlier reports, after 20 days of practice, we found minimal changes in movement time or the movement time-ID relationships for the arm and wrist over practice. However, the variability in the movement endpoints decreased over practice and wrist movements at ID=6 were characterized by shorter movement times and longer dwell times relative to arm movements with dwell time for the wrist increasing over practice. These data are consistent with the notion that Fitts' tasks provide a stable measure of perceptual-motor capabilities.

published proceedings

  • Acta Psychol (Amst)

author list (cited authors)

  • Boyle, J., Panzer, S., Wright, D., & Shea, C. H.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Boyle, Jason||Panzer, Stefan||Wright, David||Shea, Charles H

publication date

  • June 2012