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Practice organization beyond memory processes: the Schöllhorn (2022) comments on
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais UFMG, Brasil.
Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora Campus Avançado de Governador Valadares UFJF-GV, Brasil.
Instituto Metodista Izabela Hendrix, Brasil.
Correspondence to: Guilherme Menezes Lage. Department of Physical Education, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Pres. Antônio Carlos, 6627 Campus
Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, CEP 31270-901, Brasil.
email: menezeslag[email protected]
CI Contextual interference
VP Variability of practice
Received 20 05 2022
Accepted 30 05 2022
Published 01 06 2022
Professor Schöllhorn
brings an interesting and insightful viewpoint to our
narrative review, in which we aimed to discuss recent findings of a specific area of study:
the practice organization. We have reflected on Schöllhorn
comments and decided to
reply on three specific points: (1) the role of narrative literature reviews, (2) the different
interpretations of Lage et al.
and Schöllhorn
, and (3) the maintenance or not of our main
The roles of narrative and systematic literature reviews are different. The mini-
review, as a narrative review, serves in the BJMB as a forum to present a specific topic
from an author’s point of view. It is impossible to eliminate some bias and risks in terms of
conclusions in narrative reviews. Updates are usually observed over time. In our opinion,
the main narrative review published on practice organization
exemplifies this assertion.
The main hypothesis, which claims that contextual interference is observed only when
variations of generalized motor programs are applied
, was refuted by subsequent studies
. The Schöllhorn
comments have the role of challenging our viewpoint. However, a list
of interpretations extrapolates our ideas and propositions.
At any point, we claimed that we intended to redirect research in the field of Motor
Learning. Far from it, we asserted that the findings of the studies analyzed “have the
potential to redirect the research efforts in this field”
. The field was delimited in the study
of practice organization. In conjunction, the results speak for themselves. All behavioral
hypotheses proposed in the variability of practice (VP) and contextual interference (CI)
paradigms focused on memory processes. The analyzed articles showed, among other
findings, differentiated results in relation to perceptual processes involved in more
repetitive and variable practices. Therefore, we, at any point, extrapolate these findings as
general principles to the “field of motor learning”.
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In the same rationale, Schöllhorn
wrote that our “increased generalization”
suggests certainties about the predictability of interventions. Despite our disagreement
with his conclusion of “increased generalization”, we would like to take advantage of this
opportunity to clarify to the BJMB’s readers the limitations of findings in the Motor Learning
area, mainly in practice organization. The Motor Learning field produces knowledge about
the acquisition of motor skills
and essentially seeks to understand “how one learns”. The
area responsible to investigate “how one teaches” is usually called Movement Pedagogy
or Sport Pedagogy. The knowledge produced about learning factors, such as practice
organization and provision of extrinsic feedback, has a strong practical appeal
, but
cautions should be taken because the teaching of motor skills in physical education and
rehabilitation settings is much more complex than the controlled lab environment in which
the tasks are learned in motor learning research, mainly when are investigated
neurobiological processes. The focus of these studies is on the mechanisms that underlie
the changes in behavior. Teaching movements involve decisions concerning the planning,
carrying out, and evaluation of instruction of motor skills. Motor learning findings in the
behavioral level of analysis provide information that the instructors can use to develop an
operative basis for making these decisions
According to Schöllhorn
, the analysis of the references listed reveals a very
narrow field of motor learning research, which shows a bias. Yes, we agree, it is an
inherent characteristic of the narrative reviews. However, we disagree that it was “done
without explicitly stating these boundaries”
. Our rationale describes that in this narrow
field of study well defined as practice organization, both behavioral and neurophysiological
studies published until 2015-2016 focused on memory processes and neurobiological
aspects associated with the motor output. Thus, the short period of analysis, and
consequently, the few studies published, is biased by the exceptionality of research
investigating sensory input and perceptual process in practice organization only after
2015-2016. Again, we would like to take advantage of this opportunity to highlight to the
BJMB’s readers that the references used by Lage et al.
are representative of a specific
group of recent findings
. This is the reason why we proposed that the findings
have latent qualities (potential) that may be developed and lead to future changes in the
research on practice organization.
A very interesting analysis of the tasks applied in VP and CI is presented by
. However, this analysis is accurate only if Schöllhorn
has discussed the
restricted group of studies analyzed by Lage et al.
. The selected visuomotor manual skills
in this group of studies are clearly associated with the search by an increased internal
validity. Using neurobiological measures, researchers need to be confident that a cause-
and-effect relationship established in a study cannot be explained by other factors, and the
benefits of more variable practice on motor learning are consistently found in visuomotor
manual skills
. On the contrary, whether Schöllhorn
has provided a general analysis
of the tasks applied in VP and CI studies, his analysis is not exact enough. There are a
great number of studies on practice organization applying gross motor movements
involving many degrees of freedom, and suffering the influence of gravity and inertial
The main critique of Schöllhorn
is maybe the divergence of results pointed out by
Lage et al.
in the study of Henz et al.
. We agree only in part with this critique. From
many interesting findings of Henz et al.
, Lage et al.
focused only on those associated
with perceptual processes. The main results described are aligned with the logic in which
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practice that is more variable is associated with higher perceptual demand. The emphasis
was on the result showing that differential learning induces more integration from different
sensory modalities compared to the random variation of tasks and repetitive practice.
When comparing specifically the results from CI, it was highlighted that random variable
practice did not show a difference in perceptual processing compared to the constant
practice. Lage et al.
speculated that the variation of motor patterns could produce this
result since this is the only study described that varied motor patterns. We agree with
that we could do this analysis more profoundly. First, Henz et al.
did not
examine brain activity during practice as in other studies, but in the subsequent resting
state mode. Second, this was the unique study to apply a more complex task. We would
have analyzed these particularities. We would like to emphasize that Schöllhorn
“…these findings were not an isolated case or exception but confirmed findings from
previous studies where a broader understanding of variable training was suggested,
specifically the differential learning model”. At any point, we affirmed that the findings
differed from the other studies analyzed. We only described that one finding was different.
Now, we revised our viewpoint due to the exceptionality of the neurobiological analysis and
the characteristic of the task applied by Henz et al.
Finally, we would like to say thank you to Professor Schöllhorn, who gave us a
new opportunity to rethink and review our manuscript published in 2021. Within the
scientific community, critique articles should be seen as an essential component of
academic advances. Lage et al.
concluded that the second half of the 2010s can be
considered a watershed in the practice organization research. We would like to maintain
this conclusion, keeping in mind that our decision is based only on a group of recent
studies and that we never have generalized these findings as general principles to the
“field of motor learning”.
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Citation: Lage GM, Fernandes LA, Apolinário-Souza T, Nogueira NGHM, Ferreira BP. (2022). Practice organization
beyond memory processes: the Schöllhorn (2022) comments on generalization. Brazilian Journal of Motor Behavior,
Editors: Dr Fabio Augusto Barbieri - São Paulo State University (UNESP), Bauru, SP, Brazil; Dr José Angelo Barela -
São Paulo State University (UNESP), Rio Claro, SP, Brazil; Dr Natalia Madalena Rinaldi - Federal University of
Espírito Santo (UFES), Vitória, ES, Brazil.
Copyright:© 2022 Lage, Fernandes, Apolinário-Souza, Nogueira and Ferreira and BJMB. This is an open-access
article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0
International License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original author and source are credited.
Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-
profit sectors.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.