Perceptual-motor learning benefits from increased stress and anxiety

Brenton Hordacre, Maarten A. Immink, Michael C. Ridding, Susan Hillier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to manipulate psychological stress and anxiety to investigate effects on ensuing perceptual-motor learning. Thirty-six participants attended two experimental sessions separated by 24 h. In the first session, participants were randomized to either a mental arithmetic task known to increase stress and anxiety levels or a control condition and subsequently completed training on a speeded precision pinch task. Learning of the pinch task was assessed at the second session. Those exposed to the high stress-anxiety mental arithmetic task prior to training reported elevated levels of both stress and anxiety and demonstrated shorter movement times and improved retention of movement accuracy and movement variability. Response execution processes appear to benefit from elevated states of stress and anxiety immediately prior to training even when elicited by an unrelated task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-46
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Movement Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Learning
  • Motor learning
  • Perceptual motor performance
  • Psychological stress


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