Skill in discrete keying sequences is execution rate specific.

Affiliation

Department of Cognitive Psychology and Ergonomics, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7500 AE, Enschede, The Netherlands. [Email]

Abstract

The present study tested the hypothesis that in motor sequences, the interval between successive movements is critical for the type of representation that develops. Participants practiced two 7-key sequences in the context of a discrete sequence production (DSP) task. The 0-RSI group practiced these sequences with response stimulus intervals (RSIs) of 0, which is typical for the DSP task, while the long-RSI group practiced the same sequences with unpredictable RSIs between 500 and 2000 ms. The ensuing test phase examined performance of these familiar and of unfamiliar sequences for both groups under both RSI regimes. The results support our hypothesis that the motor chunks that 0-RSI participants developed could not be used with long RSIs, whereas the long-RSI participants developed sequence representations that cannot be used with 0 RSIs. A new, computerized, sequence awareness task showed that long-RSI participants had limited sequence knowledge. The sequencing skill developed by long-RSI participants can, therefore, not have been based on explicit knowledge.