Motor Learning
What is Motor Learning?
internal processes in
external force field
(practice and experience)
that lead to permanent changes in responding
Elements of Motor Learning
(according to Schmidt)
Some Motor Learning Tasks
• Riding a bike
• Swinging at a baseball
• Novices: Fall over a lot
• Consciously Learn: How
to balance
• Experts: Perform the
action without conscious
thought
• Novices: Miss a lot;
exhibit ‘jerky’ motion
• Cognitively learn: eye on
the ball; shift weight; etc.
• Experts: exhibit smooth
motion, coordination of
shoulders, legs, etc.
Memory of Motor Skills
• from the ‘level of the brain’ to the ‘level
of the muscles’
• Similar to ‘muscle memory’
• The case of H.M. : A clinical case of a
man with no long term memory; he could
learn a motor skill, and would show the
effects of practice, but could NOT
remember ever learning the skill!
The Law of Diminishing Returns
• biggest improvement in early stages
• ‘learning curve’ slows
• Example - It only takes a few weeks to
learn how to swim, but it takes years to
go from being an expert swimmer to an
Olympic level swimmer
Graph of Diminishing Returns
Diminishing Returns
120
Skill Ranking
100
80
60
Skill
40
20
0
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
Time
Motor Skills Highlights
1. GRADUAL
-”practice makes perfect”
- repeated performance of a new movement
required
2. PATTERN OF DIMINISHING RETURNS
-large gains at beginning of practice
3. MASSED VS DISTRIBUTED LEARNING
4. TRANSFER to other body parts
5. ALMOST NO LOSS OF SKILLS OVER
TIME
Discussion
• IV: type of movement
– normal versus reversed
• DV: time off target (TOT) in seconds
• Graph: TOT vs trials
• It’s easy to imagine adults learning new
skills, but what about infants?
• Are motor skills ‘automatic’ or
‘controlled’?