Obstacle avoidance in novel visual environments improved by variable practice training

Percept Mot Skills. 2005 Dec;101(3):853-61. doi: 10.2466/pms.101.3.853-861.


Motor performance on simple tasks improves after training in variable practice. We asked if locomotor skill during an obstacle-avoidance task in a novel sensorimotor environment improved through training in variable practice on other complex tasks. 40 normal adults practiced gross motor skills while wearing either sham lenses, one of several visual distortion lens (constant practice), or three different visual distortion lenses (variable practice). Posttests on obstacle avoidance with novel lenses showed significantly better scores with variable practice and one of the constant groups vs sham lenses. Constant and variable practice groups did not differ. Thus, performance in a novel environment improves after training on similar type novelty, even when practice and test conditions differ. Constant practice was effective only if the subjects used the lens efficacious in training. Variable practice increases the likelihood of efficacious training when adaptive performance is required in a novel environment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Orientation
  • Perceptual Distortion*
  • Postural Balance
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Social Environment*