Kim, Taewon (2015-05). Want to Foster New Motor Learning Following High Contextual Interference Practice: Better Consolidate Previous Learning First. Master's Thesis.
High contextual interference (CI) practice regimes aid in the retention and transfer of skilled actions. The elaboration perspective, still considered a viable explanation for the benefit of high CI training, proposes that a richer network of task specific knowledge is developed from random practice thus, affording the learner a variety of ways to retrieve task relevant information during delayed tests. One would expect that new tasks, similar to previously trained exemplars, will be acquired faster and retained with greater success following random as opposed to blocked practice. That is, the presence of a rich memory network should provide a suitable foundation from which to incorporate new related task knowledge. To examine this prediction subjects practiced three unique motor tasks in either a blocked or random format. Original practice consisted of nine trials for each seven-element motor sequence in a blocked or random schedule. An additional nine trials of practice with the novel motor sequence was experienced by all participants shortly after original training in the Experiment 1. While the typical retention benefit emerged for random practice for the original motor tasks, no practice schedule effect was revealed for new learning. Experiment 2 examined the possibility that increasing the interval between original training and supplemental practice with the novel motor task might benefit from a greater time interval. By increasing this interval from 2-min to 24-hr afforded individuals an opportunity to consolidate the memory network developed following random or blocked practice. Congruent with Experiment 1 the CI effect emerged in the form of superior retention of the motor tasks acquired via random practice. Moreover, following the longer temporal interval, random practice facilitated the rate at which new task information was used to execute a new skill which was also reflected in superior retention than observed following blocked practice. Interestingly, following consolidation, both practice schedules exhibited a task-independent benefit when first required to perform the novel task, and offline improvement in performance across a 24-hr interval. These data will be discussed with respect to broader learning benefits from inducing greater CI and the importance of memory consolidation for motor learning.