Chinese Journal of Psychology 2020, Vol.62, No.3, 441-458
The Effect of Attentional Focus for Novices in a Mirror-Drawing Task
Hsi-Sheng Chen(Department of Biological Science and Technology, China Medical University) & Li Jingling(Graduate Institute of Biomedical Sciences, China Medical University)
Focus of attention can affect motor learning efficiency. In particular, external focus, i.e. focus on the consequence of actions, was shown to improve learning speed and learning retention more than internal focus, which is focus on the action per se. Previous studies suggest that external focus can avoid interference with automatic action control and thus improve motor learning. Meanwhile, some theories on motor learning suggest that a novice should first coordinate action components, which implies that internal focus, rather than external focus, may be critical for novice. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of attentional focus in a mirror drawing task. The mirror drawing task is rare in daily life and relies on eye-hand coordination, and therefore is selected to probe novice in motor learning in this study. The external focus group was instructed to follow their drawing behavior from the mirror, while the internal focus group to feel their wrist during drawing. Two experiments were carried out. Experiment 1 showed significant improvement of mirror drawing speed from one trial experience; however, no significant difference was observed between external and internal groups. Nevertheless, correlation analyses indicated that external focus group showed more consistent response speed across two trials than the internal group. Experiment 2 asked participants to practice 15 times for the first day, and tested retention and transfer at the second day. Results showed that after practice, external focus group completed drawing faster than internal focus group in the last 5 practice trials, as well as in the transfer test. Our results thus replicated that external focus can facilitate motor learning. For novices who were in the coordination stage, there was no evidence showing that internal focus of attention can facilitate motor learning.
Keywords: Attention focus, mirror drawing task, motor learning, novice, transfer