<bold /> Purpose. In this study, we investigated the effects of the distribution of practice (distributed vs. massed) on the learning of a coincident timing task by young and older adults. Methods. Sixteen young adults and sixteen older adults were subdivided into distributed and massed practice groups. The participants completed a coincident timing task that consisted in touching five sensors in sequence under a time constraint in two learning phases: acquisition and transfer. Results. There were no performance differences between the groups in the acquisition phase. However, older adults in the massed practice group featured the poorest performance in the transfer test. No differences were found among the other groups. Conclusions. Older adults are more receptive to distribution practice as massed practice was found to lead to poorer learning. Comparisons of learning effectiveness between young and older adults are dependent on the adopted intra-session intervals. In addition, the conflicting results on distribution of practice may be related to subject-task interactions.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.