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How Children and Adults Learn to Intercept Moving Gaps
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    We used an immersive virtual environment to examine how children and adults learn to intercept moving gaps and whether children and adults benefit from variability of practice. Children (10- and 12-year-olds) and adults attempted to bicycle between two moving vehicle-size blocks without stopping. In Experiment 1, block motions were timed such that if participants maintained a constant speed, they would intercept the gap between the blocks. By the last set of intersections, adults learned to maintain a constant speed throughout the approach to the intersection, 12-year-olds exhibited less variability in time-to-spare when they intercepted the blocks, and 10-year-olds exhibited no significant change across intersection sets. In Experiment 2, block motions during the first eight intersections were timed such that participants needed to either speed up or slow down on all intersections or needed to speed up on half and slow down on half of the intersections. On the last four intersections, all age groups encountered a novel block timing in which no adjustment in speed was necessary to intercept the blocks. The adults performed well regardless of whether they experienced consistent or variable block timings. The 10-year-olds in the variable condition performed better on slow-down trials than their peers in the slow-down condition but performed worse on speed-up trials than their peers in the speed-up condition. Discussion focuses on possible developmental changes in reliance on perceptually available and remembered information in complex perception-action tasks.

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    R01 HD052875/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
    R49 CE001167/CE/NCIPC CDC HHS/United States
    R01-HD052875/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
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