Optimizing Motor Learning in Older Adults

Poster Presentation
Paper ID : 1727-SSRC
1دانشجوی دکترای رفتار حرکتی دانشگاه اصفهان
2دانشیار گروه رفتار حرکتی دانشگاه اصفهان
3استادیار گروه رفتار حرکتی دانشگاه اصفهان
4Distinguished Professor Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences University of Nevada, Las Vegas
5Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Exercise Sciences University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Background and Purpose: According to the Optimizing Performance Through Intrinsic Motivation and Attention for Learning (OPTIMAL) theory of Wulf and Lewthwaite, enhanced expectancies (EE), autonomy support (AS), and an external focus (EF) of attention facilitate motor performance and learning. Previous studies have used mainly young adults (university students) as participants; nevertheless, the effect of the presence of all three variables on older adults’ performance and learning has been less investigated. Older individuals face a variety of challenges. In addition to actual declines in physical and cognitive capabilities, negative age-related stereotypes may affect their memory or motor performance. Older people’s expectations can influence their performance, self-perceptions, and even physiological responses. The implementation of OPTIMAL factors would be expected to mitigate possible negative age-related expectations. Moreover, it has the potential to enhance the performance and learning of motor and cognitive tasks. Therefore, considering the lack of studies on the effect of these three factors on older adults’ motor learning, the present study examined whether consecutive implementation of EE, AS, and EF during practice would enhance the learning of a square-stepping task in older adults.
Methods: A sample of 24 participants had an average age of 67.12 years were selected and were randomly assigned to optimized and control groups. Participants then completed a 12-trial pre-test. Subsequently, both groups performed the practice phase which consisted of three blocks of 12 trials. After the pretest, 1 of the 3 factors was implemented during each of the three 12-trial practice blocks, in a counterbalanced order in the optimized group: positive feedback (EE), choice of mat colour (AS), and instructions to focus on the squares (EF). Control group participants practised without any of these factors.
Results: Results indicated that the optimized group had faster movement times than the control group during the practice phase and on 24-hour retention and transfer tests.
Discussion: The key variables in the OPTIMAL theory can be applied sequentially in order to facilitate motor performance and learning in older adults.