This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Red or Blue: Does the choice of hue influence the way you learn the things you do? A mechanistic account of the effects of incidental choice on motor learning.




Grand, Kirk

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation




The enhancement of motor learning is important for a myriad of activities. One way to enhance motor learning is to increase the autonomy of the learner. This can be done in several ways but typically centers around the learner having control over one or several variables of practice. The primary focus of Experiment 1 was to examine the effects of self-controlled feedback schedules on motor learning. Specifically, Experiment 1 was a mechanistic investigation of learners who were given choice (self participants) about when they received augmented feedback while practicing a non-dominant arm beanbag toss and the influence of the choice on information processing and motivation. Results showed that self participants exhibited superior motor learning, as measured by accuracy on a retention test. Additionally, self participants processed information to a greater extent (as indexed by electroencephalography [EEG]) and displayed greater intrinsic motivation (as indexed by the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory [IMI]). A post-hoc regression analysis revealed that information processing and motivation, as a set, predicted motor learning. To further investigate the relationship a practice choice may have on skill acquisition a second experiment was performed. The primary purpose of the second study was to determine whether motivation and feedback processing explain the effect incidental choices (task-irrelevant choices) can have on motor learning. To this end, participants were assigned to one of two groups, choice or yoked, then asked to practice a non-dominant arm bean bag toss to a target. The choice group was allowed to choose the color of the beanbag with which they made the toss, whereas the yoked group had a color selected for them. Feedback processing and motivation were indexed via EEG and the IMI, respectively. Results show that an incidental choice failed to improve motor learning. Additionally, an incidental choice did not enhance motivation or feedback processing, neither of which predicted motor learning.