Improvement of obstacle avoidance on a compliant surface during transfer to a novel visual task after variable practice under unusual visual conditions

Percept Mot Skills. 2009 Feb;108(1):173-80. doi: 10.2466/PMS.108.1.173-180.


Previous work has shown that variable practice facilitates adaptation to novel visuomotor changes during throwing tasks and obstacle avoidance on a solid floor. To assess whether locomotor skill on an obstacle-avoidance task performed on a compliant surface and in a novel visuomotor environment improved after training with variable practice, 61 normal adults practiced traversing the obstacle course. Half the trials were performed with no visual changes and half with either sham lenses or visually distorting lenses; the latter were either single or multiple lenses. On transfer tests on the obstacle course while wearing novel lenses, scores were significantly better with multiple lenses than sham; the single-lens group did not differ from sham or multiple-lens groups. Thus, performance in a novel visual environment on a compliant surface improved most with variable practice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Eyeglasses
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Perceptual Distortion / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Perception / physiology