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Improving skill learning in motor learning

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  • Full or part time
    Dr T Stafford
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted

Project Description

Self-guided practice is systematically biased so as to produce sub-optimal improvements in skill learning (Huang, Shadmehr & Diedrichsen, 2008). In motor learning, people tend to practice what they already know - an analogue of ‘confirmation bias’ in belief testing. This bias leads to the under-exploration of the complex parameter space of skilled motor actions, hindering us from learning optimal movements. We have developed a laboratory motor skill learning task and shown that participants show just such a reliance on what they already know, and that this hampers optimal skill learning (Stafford et al, 2012).

The aims of this project would be

1. To show that interventions to decrease reliance on what is already known (i.e. to increase exploration via perturbation and/or handicap training) improve skill learning in our laboratory task.

2. Develop metrics which allow us to diagnose when interventions in training will be most effective.

(and, stretch goal)

3. Test if laboratory interventions which can improve rate of skill learning can generalise to athletes learning a new athletic skill



Huang, V. S., Shadmehr, R., & Diedrichsen, J. (2008). Active Learning: Learning a Motor Skill Without a Coach. Journal of Neurophysiology, 100(2), 879 –887.

Stafford, T., Thirkettle, M., Walton, T., Vautrelle, N., Hetherington, L., Port, M., Gurney, K., et al. (2012). A Novel Task for the Investigation of Action Acquisition. PLoS ONE, 7(6), e37749. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037749

Funding Notes

This is one of many projects in competition for the current funding opportunities available within the Department of Psychology. Please see here for full details: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/psychology/prospectivepg/funding
Overseas students are welcome to apply for funding but must be able to demonstrate that they can fund the difference in the tuition fees.
Requirements: We ask for a minimum of a first class or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree and a distinction or high merit at Masters level in psychology or a related discipline.

References

Huang, V. S., Shadmehr, R., & Diedrichsen, J. (2008). Active Learning: Learning a Motor Skill Without a Coach. Journal of Neurophysiology, 100(2), 879 –887.
Nickerson, R. S. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of General Psychology, 2(2), 175-220.
Stafford, T., Thirkettle, M., Walton, T., Vautrelle, N., Hetherington, L., Port, M., Gurney, K., et al. (2012). A Novel Task for the Investigation of Action Acquisition. PLoS ONE, 7(6), e37749. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037749

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45

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