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Keynote Address - Empowering Movement through OPTIMAL Learning Conditions

Dr. Gabriele Wulf and Dr. Rebecca Lewthwaite
Hand Out / Document

In 2016, our keynote speakers Gabriele Wulf and Rebecca Lewthwaite published their OPTIMAL theory of Motor Learning. Here is an excerpt from the abstract for the article that describes their research:

In the OPTIMAL (Optimizing Performance through Intrinsic Motivation and Attention for Learning) theory of motor learning...we suggest that motivational and attentional factors contribute to performance and earning by strengthening the coupling of goals to actions. We provide explanations for the performance and learning advantages of these variables on psychological and neuroscientific grounds.

In their presentation for ABME, they will discuss the application of this research to acquiring the skills we use to make music and to train other musicians. Here is another quote that shows the application of their research to what we do:

The objective of training is to achieve a skill level that is characterized by accuracy and consistency in achieving the movement goal (i.e., effectiveness), as well as automaticity, and fluent and economical movements that require little physical and mental effort (i.e., efficiency). Moreover, many situations involve social pressure, the pressure of winning or losing a game, monetary awards, or even the potential for harm. Thus, training should ideally enable performers to avoid performance decrements in pressure situations.
The understanding of how various factors influence motor performance and learning is essential for the development of optimal training methods. The implementation of effective practice methods can speed the learning process, resulting in higher skill levels being achieved sooner... Optimized training protocols may also enhance performers’ safety or even ultimate performance levels.

Gabriele Wulf is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She received her PhD from the German Sport University in Cologne. Dr. Wulf studies factors that influence the learning and performance of motor skills, including attentional focus and motivational variables. Her research has resulted in more than 200 journal articles and book chapters, as well as three books. She has received various awards for her research, including UNLV’s Barrick Distinguished Scholar Award and the Distinguished Scholar Award of the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. She served as the founding editor of two journals, Frontiers in Movement Science and Sport Psychology and the Journal of Motor Learning and Development. Dr. Wulf is a Fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology.

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