Benefits of enhanced expectancies through temporal- comparative feedback for motor learning in older adults

Helena Thofehrn Lessa *, Go Tani ** and Suzete Chiviacowsky *

(*) Universidade Federal De Pelotas, Brazil
(**) Universidade De São Paulo, Brazil

The present study investigated the effects of positive temporal-comparative feedback on the learning of a timing walk task in older adults. Thirty-four older adults practiced a task in which they were required to learn how to walk for a dis- tance of 4 m using 50% of their maximal speed. Participants were divided into a positive temporal-comparative feedback (PTC) group and a control group, both of which received feedback about timing accuracy after every other trial during prac- tice. In addition, after each block of 10 trials, participants in the PTC group were informed that their average temporal errors in the block were lower than the aver- age error of the previous block. Retention and transfer tests were performed 24 hours after the practice phase. A customized questionnaire was also applied, which focused on verifying perceived competence, enjoinment, and nervousness levels. The results showed enhanced learning and lower levels of nervousness while adapting to the transfer task for the PTC group relative to the control group. These results provide evidence that positive temporal-comparative feedback can facilitate motor learning in older adults, and further support the motivational role of feed- back in motor learning.

Keywords: Aging, Knowledge of results, Motivation