Focus of attention during dual-tasks and practice schedules are important components of motor skill performance and learning; often studied in isolation. The current study required participants to complete a simple key-pressing task under a blocked or random practice schedule. To manipulate attention, participants reported their finger position (i.e., skill-focused attention) or the pitch of an auditory tone (i.e., extraneous attention) while performing two variations of a dual-task key-pressing task. Analyses were conducted at baseline, 10 min and 24 h after acquisition. The results revealed that participants in a blocked schedule, extraneous focus condition had significantly faster movement times during retention compared to a blocked schedule, skill focus condition. Furthermore, greatest improvements from baseline to immediate and delayed retention were evident for an extraneous attention compared to the skill-focused attention, regardless of practice schedule. A discussion of the unique benefits an extraneous focus of attention may have on the learning process during dual-task conditions is presented.
Raisbeck, L. D., Regal, A., Diekfuss, J. A., Rhea, C. K., & Ward, P. (2015). Influence of practice schedules and attention on skill development and retention. Human Movement Science, 43, 100-106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2015.07.004