Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Neeraja Sadagopan

Second Advisor

Lori Ramig

Third Advisor

David Sherwood

Abstract

The purpose of the current research is to elucidate the effects of two practice schedules (blocked vs. random) on motor learning in the context of speech production. Specifically, this study examined the effect of blocked vs. random practice on the acquisition and retention of novel speech motor sequences (nonwords) in healthy young adults. Participants underwent a comparable amount of practice in either blocked or random order on Day 1 and were tested for retention on the following day. Kinematic measures of timing (duration, duration variability and relative duration variability) and measures of behavioral accuracy were obtained for four time points during acquisition on Day 1 and during the retention test on the following day in order to test two primary hypotheses: 1) the blocked practice group would outperform the random practice group on measures of accuracy, duration, duration variability and relative variability during acquisition; and 2) the random practice group would outperform the blocked practice group at retention testing along the same outcome measures. Consistent with patterns established in the limb motor learning literature, participants in the blocked practice demonstrated better overall performance during acquisition, though not necessarily greater gains in performance. While blocked practice resulted in poorer performance than random practice on Day 2, the difference between the groups was significant only for accuracy.

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