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The role of error processing in the contextual interference effect during the training of perceptual-cognitive skills
journal contributionposted on 2023-02-12, 23:55 authored by DP Broadbent, J Causer, A Mark Williams, PR Ford
The contextual interference (CI) effect refers to the learning benefits that occur from a random comparedwith blocked practice order. In this article, the cognitive effort explanation for the CI effect was examinedby investigating the role of error processing. In 2 experiments, a perceptual-cognitive task was used inwhich participants anticipated 3 different tennis skills across a pretest, 3 practice sessions, and retentiontest. During practice, the skills were presented in either a random or blocked practice order. InExperiment 1, cognitive effort was examined using a probe reaction time (RT) task. In Experiment 2,cognitive effort was manipulated for 2 groups by inserting a cognitively demanding secondary task intothe intertrial interval. The CI effect was found in both experiments as the random groups displayedsuperior learning in the retention test compared with the blocked groups. Cognitive effort during practicewas greater in random compared to blocked practice groups in Experiment 1. In Experiment 2, greaterdecrements in secondary task performance following an error were reported for the random group whencompared with the blocked group. The suggestion is that not only the frequent switching of tasks inrandomized orders causes increased cognitive effort and the CI effect, but it is also error processing incombination with task switching. Findings extend the cognitive effort explanation for the CI effect andpropose an alternative hypothesis highlighting the role of error processing.