Effects of balance cues and experience on serial recall of human movement

Wachowicz, Fatima, Stevens, Catherine J. and Byron, Timothy P. (2011) Effects of balance cues and experience on serial recall of human movement. Dance Research, 29 2 Electronic Contents: 450-468. doi:10.3366/drs.2011.0028

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Author Wachowicz, Fatima
Stevens, Catherine J.
Byron, Timothy P.
Title Effects of balance cues and experience on serial recall of human movement
Journal name Dance Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0264-2875
Publication date 2011-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3366/drs.2011.0028
Open Access Status
Volume 29
Issue 2 Electronic Contents
Start page 450
End page 468
Total pages 19
Place of publication Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.
Publisher Edinburgh University Press
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
One way that student dancers learn new contemporary dance, hip-hop or ballroom dancing is by observing and reproducing dance phrases or steps. For experts, learning long and complex sequences may appear effortless whereas for those new to dance, the task is challenging with both motor and cognitive demands. On the cognitive side, the first stage for increasing familiarity or perceptual fluency is registering or encoding material in the short-term memory. With rehearsal, the material may be transferred subsequently to the long-term memory. Theories propose that human memory is cue driven the more cues that are present while taking information in, that are also present at the time of retrieving the information, the better the recall. In this study, we investigate proprioceptive cues related to relative stability, as cues to short-term memory for recalling a series of simple body movements. We ask: is the feeling of either being in a balanced or unbalanced standing position a cue to short-term memory for movement material? And, if so, are such proprioceptive cues moderated by dance experience?

An experiment was designed to lest short-term memory for relatively simple body movements. Our aim was to investigate the observation of a series of movements and their immediate recall in the original order by adults with differing levels of specialist movement experience, including dance and martial arts. The experiment task was similar to a dance teacher performing a number of different movements and students recalling those movements immediately by performing them using their body and in the correct order. To minimise intrusion from long-term knowledge of biological motion - as such knowledge may distinguish novices and experts without testing their short-term memory capacity - disconnected or non-flowing simple movements were used as the material to be observed and later recalled.

Relative stability in our experiment participants was challenged using the Tandem Romberg Position (TRP), which involves standing toe-to-heel in a line, and we reasoned that this should not impair experts' recall of movements using their body, relative to those less expert. According to the concept of encoding specificity from working memory theory, recalling items in the correct order is most likely when there is a match between cues during encoding and retrieval. If relative stability is a contextual cue during observing and learning movement, then recall should be greatest when contexts match during encoding and retrieval. In Experiment 1, low and moderate movement experience groups observed and then performed four body movements; in Experiment 2, and following the same procedure, low, moderate, and high movement experience groups recalled six movements. Recall span and movement experience were positively correlated the more movement training, the greater the memory span. In Experiment 1, encoding specificity was observed, indicating that proprioception can be a cue to recalling movement from WM.

The results indicate that changing proprioceptive cues can reduce memory span for movement, especially among those with low or moderate experience. In teaching new movers, there is a need to maximise the cognitive resources available for learning, by reducing the number of competing demands on attention and working memory. The present results also support the common practice in dance companies to disrupt context-specific cues by changing location and training the execution of movement phrases, in different spatial orientations. Generalisation to different environmental contexts appears to strengthen the memory trace. For dance teachers, the present results identify, potential impairments to recall, the advantages of initially minimizing competing demands, and later diversifying contextual cues, including varying environments where new material is learned and rehearsed.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Non HERDC
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 20 Mar 2012, 21:45:30 EST by Mrs Alison Pike on behalf of School of Psychology