Consistent and variable practice conditions: effects on relative and absolute timing. Academic Article uri icon


  • The authors conducted the present experiments to resolve the discrepancy between studies in which relative-timing learning has been found to be enhanced by consistent practice conditions and contextual interference experiments in which relative-timing learning has been found to be enhanced more by random practice than by blocked practice. There were 40 participants in Experiment 1 and 48 in Experiment 2. The results of Experiment 1 extended previous findings: The learning of the relative-timing pattern was systematically enhanced by the degree to which the practice conditions promoted movement consistency (constant > blocked > serial > random). Experiment 2 provided evidence that the discrepancy between the relative-timing effects in the 2 groups of studies was a product of the way in which relative-timing goals and feedback were presented. When the feedback was presented as segment times, random practice resulted in generally more stable relative-timing patterns during acquisition than blocked practice did. Thus, in both experiments, the learning of the relative-timing pattern was enhanced by more stable relative-timing conditions during acquisition. Absolute-timing learning, as indexed by the transfer tests, was enhanced by serial or random practice as compared with constant or blocked practice, and was relatively unaffected by feedback conditions directed at the relative-timing pattern. In terms of motor programming theory, those findings are taken as additional evidence for the disassociation of memories supporting generalized motor program (GMP) performance, as indexed by relative timing, and parameter performance, as indexed by absolute timing.

published proceedings

  • J Mot Behav

author list (cited authors)

  • Shea, C. H., Lai, Q., Wright, D. L., Immink, M., & Black, C.

citation count

  • 78

complete list of authors

  • Shea, CH||Lai, Q||Wright, DL||Immink, M||Black, C

publication date

  • January 2001