The effects of secondary tasks on implicit motor skill performance

Kenneth Macmahon, R.S.W. Masters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Acquiring a skill in an implicit manner is thought to have a number of advantages over acquiring the same skill explicitly. In particular, implicitly learnt skills have been shown to be more durable over time and more robust to the influence of psychological stress. Implicit motor skill learning has been demonstrated on several occasions using a concurrent secondary task to curb explicit rule formation. On each occasion the benefits of learning the skill implicitly have been robustness under psychological stress, with the learners less likely to exhibit skill breakdown. The secondary task employed to curb explicit rule formation has been one that loads on the central executive component of working memory. The primary difficulty with the use of this task has been a consequent decrement in performance as a result of the attentional demands of the central executive task intruding upon execution of the motor skill. This paper examines whether less intrusive, non-central executive, phonological loop secondary tasks prevent explicit knowledge formation whilst not impacting adversely upon performance of the primary skill. Two experiments were performed, the results of which demonstrate that phonological loop tasks do not prevent explicit knowledge acquisition. This suggests that the phonological loop is not an essential component in the development of explicit knowledge regarding a motor task. The problem of finding a secondary task to block explicit knowledge formation whilst not interfering with motor performance remains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-324
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • dual-task
  • implicit
  • motor
  • performance
  • stress


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