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Does monetary reward enhance motor sequence learning?

Austermann, L. (2013) Does monetary reward enhance motor sequence learning?

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Abstract:Learning new motor skills is quite time-consuming. Since recent studies found that reward has a positive influence on performance in simple cognitive and motor task we wanted to investigate if this effect can also be observed in the learning of a more complex motor task. Therefore, we examined if we can speed up the learning of a motor sequence through monetary reward. To investigate this issue we instructed participants to execute two sequences of each six key presses as fast and accurate as possible. One sequence was presented three times as often as the other. Participants in the experimental condition could earn €10 at maximum if they improved their performance during practice. A control group received no reward. We expected rewarded participants to execute the key sequences faster and more accurate compared to the non-rewarded group. Learning was measured as a decrease in RTs and erroneous responses in an initial practice phase. In the following test phase the difference in RTs and erroneous responses of the two familiar and two unfamiliar sequences were compared. Our hypothesis was only weakly supported by the data. Reward seemed to have positively influenced the amount of erroneous responses in the briefly practiced sequence. Although RTs of rewarded participants were shorter than those of non-rewarded participants during practice this difference was not significant. Additionally, we found that the familiar sequences were executed faster than unfamiliar ones in the test phase. RTs of the rewarded and non-rewarded group did not differ. Possible reasons for the absence of a positive effect of reward are discussed. An unexpected high motivation among all participants probably diminished the incentive effect of the reward. In future research it should carefully be accounted for such interfering factors
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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