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They say practice makes perfect. Whether you’re preparing for a piano recital, solving equations, or delivering a speech, you have to admit that the more you practice, the better you perform. However, a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience is now saying that more practice also means less effort on your part.
The experiment involved 15 right-handed participants who used a joystick to control a robotic arm to move a cursor around on a screen. The movements involved inward and outward motions. In some cases, the volunteers had to exert more effort when a kind of force field pushed back against the robotic arm. All in all, they performed 600 trials.
As they were practicing, the participants breathed through a mouthpiece so that researchers could monitor the rate of their metabolism or how much oxygen they consumed and how much carbon dioxide they produced. They also had six of their upper limb muscles connected to wires for the researchers to gather electromyographic data from.
Results revealed that as the sessions went on, their metabolic cost got lower. According to lead study author and University of Colorado-Boulder assistant professor Alaa Ahmed, "The brain could be modulating subtle features of arm muscle activity, recruiting other muscles, or reducing its own activity to make the movements more efficiently."
Most of you probably stop practicing after you’ve reached a point you deem acceptable. However, the study also suggests that the continued decrease of metabolic cost may mean that you’re still learning something. It’s not enough for you to just know how to do something. With more practice, you should be able to do anything with more ease as well.
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(Photo source: sxc.hu)