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Concept: Memory storage and retrieval influence motor skill learning and performance.

After completing this chapter, you will be able to

  • Compare and contrast working memory and long-term memory in terms of duration and capacity of information as well as processing activities in each

  • Distinguish procedural, episodic, and semantic memory as components of long-term memory

  • Define declarative and procedural knowledge

  • Give examples of explicit and implicit memory tests and describe how each relates to assessing, remembering, and forgetting

  • Discuss several causes of forgetting for working memory and long-term memory

  • Discuss effective strategies to help remember a movement or sequence of movements that must be performed

  • Define the encoding specificity principle as it relates to practice and test contexts associated with the performance of motor skills


Have you ever had the experience of being introduced to someone at a party and then finding it difficult to recall that person’s name, even a very short time later? Compare that to remembering a teacher’s name from your elementary school. You can probably name most of your teachers with little difficulty. The situations described so far relate to our use of memory for cognitive or verbal information. Now let’s consider a situation involving a motor skill. If you took tennis classes as a beginner (if you haven’t taken tennis classes, substitute any physical activity or sport skill you have experienced as a beginner), think about the time when you were shown how to serve a tennis ball for the first time. When you tried it, you found that you had some difficulty remembering all the things that you were supposed to do to perform a successful serve. Think about how remembering in that situation differs quite drastically from how well you can hop onto a bicycle, even after you have not been on one for many years, and ride it down the street.

Application Problem to Solve Describe a motor skill that you might help people learn. When you give them instructions about how to perform the skill, or specific parts of the skill, how will you give those instructions so that the people will remember what they are supposed to do when they practice the skill?


Memory plays an important role in virtually all our daily activities. Whether in conversation with a friend, working mathematical problems, or playing tennis, we are confronted by situations that require the use of memory to produce action.

What is memory? We often think of memory as being synonymous with the words retention or remembering. As such, most people consider that the word memory indicates a capacity to remember. Endel Tulving (1985), a leading contemporary memory researcher and theorist, has stated that memory is the “capacity that permits organisms to benefit from their past experiences” (p. 385).

In the discussion that follows, we ...

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