It is unknown whether rewards improve the capability to select appropriate targets for one's movement (action selection) and/or the movement itself (action execution). Thus, we devised an experimental task wherein participants categorized a complex visual stimulus to determine toward which one of two targets to execute an action (putt a golf ball) on each trial under one of three conditions: Reward, punishment, or neutral. After practicing the task under their assigned condition, participants performed an immediate, 24-hr, and 7-day post-test. Results revealed participants putted to the correct target more frequently during the post-tests than the first practice block, and putted more accurately during the post-tests than a pretest. However, the condition in which participants practiced did not moderate post-test performance (for either task component). Additionally, motivation scores explained action selection and action execution for the immediate posttest performance but not long-term retention, suggesting that motivation might be related to immediate performance, but not long-term learning. Further, the present task may be useful for researchers studying action selection and execution, since the task yielded learning effects that could be moderated by factors of interest.
- Motor learning
- Reinforcement learning