Expertise, attention, and memory in sensorimotor skill execution: Impact of novel task constraints on dual-task performance and episodic memory

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Two experiments explored the attention and memory processes governing sensorimotor skill. Experiment 1 compared novice and experienced golf putting performance in single-task (putting in isolation) and dual-task conditions (putting while performing an auditory word search task). At specific intervals, participants also produced episodic descriptions of specific putts. Experiment 2 assessed novice performance following training on the same putting task. In Experiment 1, experienced golfers did not differ in putting accuracy from single- to dual-task conditions and, compared to novices, had higher recognition memory for words heard while putting but diminished episodic memories of specific putts. However, when using an s-shaped arbitrarily weighted "funny putter" designed to disrupt the mechanics of skill execution, experienced golfers produced extensive episodic memories of specific putts but showed decreased dual-task putting accuracy and recognition memory for secondary task words. Trained novices produced results intermediate between the untrained novices and experienced golfers. As predicted by current theories of practice-based automaticity, expertise leads to proceduralized control that does not require constant attention. Resources are free to devote to secondary task demands, yet episodic memory for primary task performance is impoverished. Novel task constraints (e.g., a funny putter) increase attention to execution, compromising secondary task performance but enhancing memory for skill execution.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2002

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