Memory for Movement with Emphasis on Short-Term Aspects
George E. Stelmach
University of Wisconsin
Closed-loop theory emphasizes motor learning through the detection and correction of movement error via increased memory strength. Thus, another way to study how we acquire motor skills is to look at the memory aspects of movement information; that is, how the memory representation affects retention of movement information. At first glance, it may seem that the topics of learning and retention are not closely related, but if you simply consider that learning research focuses on what is retained, whereas memory research focuses on what is forgotten, you will see they are related. Although we spend most of our lives learning, our learning is usually indexed by how we retained information. It is impossible to separate completely learning and retention; a concern for one is a matter of emphasis rather than of clear and distinct differences. Unlike the procedures used in learning that require successive attempts to repeat a motor act, retention research usually varies the amount of delay or interfering activity before a movement is repeated.
Retention loss over time involves various types of memory, and it is useful for students of movement to conceptualize these differences. It is assumed that newly presented information is transformed by sensory receptors into a physiological representation, which is briefly stored in a sensory storage buffer. After this brief storage, the representation is identified and transformed into a new code and retained temporarily in another memory called short-term memory (STM). At this point, recycling and organizing of the information insures its transfer to a more permanent memory called long-term memory (LTM). The research findings reported in this chapter are restricted to those of short-term