Movement substructures change as a function of practice in children and adults.


An experiment is reported in which participants at 6 (n = 20), 9 (n = 20), and 24 years (n = 20) of age either received or did not receive practice on a rapid aiming task using the arm and hand. The purpose of the experiment was to document the changes in movement substructures (in addition to movement time) as a function of practice. After receiving 10 baseline trials, subjects in the practice groups received 30 practice trials followed by 10 retention trials on each of 5 days, while subjects in the no-practice group had only baseline and retention trials. Retention-only trials were divided into primary (reflecting the ballistic controlled part of the movement) and secondary (reflecting corrective movement adjustments) submovements. In addition, jerk (the 3rd derivative of movement displacement) was calculated as an estimate of the smoothness of the movement. Participants increased the primary submovement as a function of practice; however, the increases were substantially larger in the children (25-30%) than in the adults (10%). Participants also decreased jerk as a function of practice and the decreases were greater in children than in adults. The results suggest that with practice the primary submovement is lengthened so that it ends nearer the target, especially in children. Associated with the primary submovement covering a larger percentage of the movement length and time, movements became smoother.


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@article{Thomas2000MovementSC, title={Movement substructures change as a function of practice in children and adults.}, author={Jason R Thomas and Jin H. Yan and George E. Stelmach}, journal={Journal of experimental child psychology}, year={2000}, volume={75 3}, pages={228-44} }