To determine whether older adults benefit from random order practice or
blocked practice when learning a complex, bimanual task.
Retention of a learned skill is affected by how we practice. Older adults may
experience a loss of performance levels during various motor tasks; in order to
regain those skills, it is necessary to practice in an effective way that allows for
retention. Contextual interference (CI) is a method used to improve retention
by practicing task variants in a random order. This is in contrast to practicing
the same variant repeatedly, or through blocked practice. CI is an effective way
to learn and retain simple motor tasks; however, whether CI is effective for more
complex tasks is unclear. Little research has been done to answer whether older
adults benefit from CI as a practice method for learning complex tasks.
Suggested hypothesis: It has been demonstrated random practice leads to better
skill persistence in both high and low complexity task variants; as a result, the
authors hypothesize random practice will lead to better skill persistence in low
and high complexity task variants in both young and old adults.