Novice motor performance: better not to verbalize.


  • Chauvel Guillaume
  • Maquestiaux François
  • Ruthruff Eric
  • Didierjean André
  • Hartley Alan A

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Offline verbalization about a new motor experience is often assumed to positively influence subsequent performance. Here, we evaluated this presumed positive influence and whether it originates from declarative or from procedural knowledge using the explicit/implicit motor-learning paradigm. To this end, 80 nongolfers learned to perform a golf-putting task with high error rates (i.e., explicit motor learning), and thus relied on declarative knowledge, or low error rates (i.e., implicit motor learning), and thus relied on procedural knowledge. Afterward, they either put their memories of the previous motor experience into words or completed an irrelevant verbal task. Finally, they performed the putting task again. Verbalization did not improve novice motor performance: Putting was impaired, overall, and especially so for high-error learners. We conclude that declarative knowledge is altered by verbalization, whereas procedural knowledge is not.

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