Manipulations of task switches during acquisition: A test of the elaboration hypothesis of contextual interference

Carol Helen Aloupis, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


The effects of practice composition on retention performance of motor skills have been investigated by many researchers (e.g., Shea, Kohl, & Indermill, 1990) and the order of task presentation during practice has been determined to be critical in skill retention. Specifically, presenting a subject with several versions of a task typically produces poorer performance during practice but superior performance during retention, relative to a situation in which the same version of the task is presented repeatedly. This concept is known as contextual interference. Typically, it is the switching between task versions that is considered the critical manipulation, while the consistency of switching is ignored. This experiment was designed to examine the consistency of task switching. Four groups were examined to determine if the consistency of task switches is also important in the retention of a force production task. Although no statistical differences were found between the groups in this experiment, explanations are provided and potential future studies are proposed.