Investigating error detection capabilities in a novel sensorimotor task as a function of athletic experience


The ability to detect movement error is an essential cognitive ability underlying skilled motor performance. An identified gap in the literature is whether the error detection capabilities in a well-learned motor task transfer to a novel, but similar sensorimotor task. The purpose of this experiment was to examine whether previous athletic experience in a routine sport (i.e. Cheerleading) would affect the participant's error-detection accuracy during the acquisition of a novel motor skill. Twenty-four subjects (n = 12 routine athletes, n = 12 non-routine athletes) participated in an alternating isometric elbow flexion and extension task. All participants completed 15 acquisition trials alternating between 46% flexion and 38% extension of their maximal voluntary contraction. After each acquisition trial, participants self-reported their perceived overall flexion and extension force prior to receiving KR regarding their approximation of the flexion and extension isometric goals. Participants completed a 2-day retention test that replicated the acquisition protocol but without KR. The results from the two-day retention test showed the routine athletes' error detection improved from block one (M=8.08, SD= 5.78) to block two (M= 7.25, SD= 5.53). However, there were no between group differences. The Movement-Specific Reinvestment Scale revealed that the routine athletes (M= 4.45, SD= 0.24) scored significantly higher (p = 0.02) than the non-routine athletes (M= 3.54, SD= 0.24) suggesting they had greater movement self-consciousness. Thus, previous sensorimotor experience did not differentially impact the error-detection accuracy of routine athletes during the acquisition of a novel force production task.