Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Skills


Skilled performers exhibit more efficient gaze patterns than less-skilled counterparts do and they look more frequently at task-relevant regions than at superfluous ones. We examine whether we may guide novices' gaze towards relevant regions during action observation in order to facilitate their learning of a complex motor skill. In a Pre-test-Post-test examination of changes in their execution of the full golf swing, 21 novices viewed one of three videos at intervention: i) a skilled golfer performing 10 swings (Free Viewing, FV); ii) the same video with transient colour cues superimposed to highlight key features of the setup (Visual Guidance; VG); iii) or a History of Golf video (Control). Participants in the visual guidance group spent significantly more time looking at cued areas than did the other two groups, a phenomenon that persisted after the cues had been removed. Moreover, the visual guidance group improved their swing execution at Post-test and on a Retention test one week later. Our results suggest that visual guidance to cued areas during observational learning of complex motor skills may accelerate acquisition of the skill.

Concepts: Motor control, Skill, Learning, Knowledge, Motor skill, Skills, Golf


This research revealed both similarities and striking differences in early language proficiency among infants from a broad range of advantaged and disadvantaged families. English-learning infants (n = 48) were followed longitudinally from 18 to 24 months, using real-time measures of spoken language processing. The first goal was to track developmental changes in processing efficiency in relation to vocabulary learning in this diverse sample. The second goal was to examine differences in these crucial aspects of early language development in relation to family socioeconomic status (SES). The most important findings were that significant disparities in vocabulary and language processing efficiency were already evident at 18 months between infants from higher- and lower-SES families, and by 24 months there was a 6-month gap between SES groups in processing skills critical to language development.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Socioeconomic status, Skill, Learning, Developmental psychology, Child development, Skills


Negative public attitudes towards psychiatry hinder individuals coming for treatment and prevent us from attracting and retaining the very brightest and best doctors. As psychiatrists we are skilled in using science to change the thoughts and behaviours of individuals, however, we lack the skills to engage entire populations. Expertise in this field is the preserve of branding, advertising and marketing professionals. Techniques from these fields can be used to rebrand psychiatry at a variety of levels from national recruitment drives to individual clinical interactions between psychiatrists and their patients.

Concepts: Psychology, Critical thinking, Physician, Clinical psychology, Psychiatry, Mental health professional, Psychiatrist, Skills


Evidence supports a positive association between competence in fundamental movement skills (e.g., kicking, jumping) and physical activity in young people. Whilst important, fundamental movement skills do not reflect the broad diversity of skills utilized in physical activity pursuits across the lifespan. Debate surrounds the question of what are the most salient skills to be learned which facilitate physical activity participation across the lifespan. In this paper, it is proposed that the term ‘fundamental movement skills’ be replaced with ‘foundational movement skills’. The term ‘foundational movement skills’ better reflects the broad range of movement forms that increase in complexity and specificity and can be applied in a variety of settings. Thus, ‘foundational movement skills’ includes both traditionally conceptualized ‘fundamental’ movement skills and other skills (e.g., bodyweight squat, cycling, swimming strokes) that support physical activity engagement across the lifespan. A proposed conceptual model outlines how foundational movement skill competency can provide a direct or indirect pathway, via specialized movement skills, to a lifetime of physical activity. Foundational movement skill development is hypothesized to vary according to culture and/or geographical location. Further, skill development may be hindered or enhanced by physical (i.e., fitness, weight status) and psychological (i.e., perceived competence, self-efficacy) attributes. This conceptual model may advance the application of motor development principles within the public health domain. Additionally, it promotes the continued development of human movement in the context of how it leads to skillful performance and how movement skill development supports and maintains a lifetime of physical activity engagement.

Concepts: Skill, Competence, Four stages of competence, Learning, Motor skill, Skills


After a memory is formed, it continues to be processed by the brain. These “off-line” processes consolidate the memory, leading to its enhancement and to changes in memory circuits. Potentially, these memory changes are driven by off-line replay of the pattern of neuronal activity present when the memory was being formed. A new study by Dhaksin Ramanathan and colleagues, published in PLOS Biology, demonstrates that replay occurs predominately after the acquisition of a new motor skill and that it is related to changes in memory performance and to the subsequent changes in memory circuits. Together, these observations reveal the importance of neuronal replay in the consolidation of novel motor skills.

Concepts: Motor control, Skill, Learning, Leadership, Procedural memory, Motor skill, Skills


Achievement in mathematics is predicted by an individual’s domain-specific factual knowledge, procedural skill and conceptual understanding as well as domain-general executive function skills. In this study we investigated the extent to which executive function skills contribute to these three components of mathematical knowledge, whether this mediates the relationship between executive functions and overall mathematics achievement, and if these relationships change with age. Two hundred and ninety-three participants aged between 8 and 25years completed a large battery of mathematics and executive function tests. Domain-specific skills partially mediated the relationship between executive functions and mathematics achievement: Inhibitory control within the numerical domain was associated with factual knowledge and procedural skill, which in turn was associated with mathematical achievement. Working memory contributed to mathematics achievement indirectly through factual knowledge, procedural skill and, to a lesser extent, conceptual understanding. There remained a substantial direct pathway between working memory and mathematics achievement however, which may reflect the role of working memory in identifying and constructing problem representations. These relationships were remarkably stable from 8years through to young adulthood. Our findings help to refine existing multi-component frameworks of mathematics and understand the mechanisms by which executive functions support mathematics achievement.

Concepts: Mathematics, Learning, Set theory, Logic, Procedural memory, Working memory, Executive functions, Skills


Due to intensive marketing and the rapid growth of online gambling, poker currently enjoys great popularity among large sections of the population. Although poker is legally a game of chance in most countries, some (particularly operators of private poker web sites) argue that it should be regarded as a game of skill or sport because the outcome of the game primarily depends on individual aptitude and skill. The available findings indicate that skill plays a meaningful role; however, serious methodological weaknesses and the absence of reliable information regarding the relative importance of chance and skill considerably limit the validity of extant research. Adopting a quasi-experimental approach, the present study examined the extent to which the influence of poker playing skill was more important than card distribution. Three average players and three experts sat down at a six-player table and played 60 computer-based hands of the poker variant “Texas Hold'em” for money. In each hand, one of the average players and one expert received (a) better-than-average cards (winner’s box), (b) average cards (neutral box) and © worse-than-average cards (loser’s box). The standardized manipulation of the card distribution controlled the factor of chance to determine differences in performance between the average and expert groups. Overall, 150 individuals participated in a “fixed-limit” game variant, and 150 individuals participated in a “no-limit” game variant. ANOVA results showed that experts did not outperform average players in terms of final cash balance. Rather, card distribution was the decisive factor for successful poker playing. However, expert players were better able to minimize losses when confronted with disadvantageous conditions (i.e., worse-than-average cards). No significant differences were observed between the game variants. Furthermore, supplementary analyses confirm differential game-related actions dependent on the card distribution, player status, and game variant. In conclusion, the study findings indicate that poker should be regarded as a game of chance, at least under certain basic conditions, and suggest new directions for further research.

Concepts: Play, Playing card, Game, Skills, Dice, Card game, Texas hold 'em, Game of skill


Motor deficits are linked to a range of negative physical, social and academic consequences. Haptic robotic interventions, based on the principles of sensorimotor learning, have been shown previously to help children with motor problems learn new movements. We therefore examined whether the training benefits of a robotic system would generalise to a standardised test of ‘pen-skills’, assessed using objective kinematic measures [via the Clinical Kinematic Assessment Tool, CKAT]. A counterbalanced, cross-over design was used in a group of 51 children (37 male, aged 5-11 years) with manual control difficulties. Improved performance on a novel task using the robotic device could be attributed to the intervention but there was no evidence of generalisation to any of the CKAT tasks. The robotic system appears to have the potential to support motor learning, with the technology affording numerous advantages. However, the training regime may need to target particular manual skills (e.g. letter formation) in order to obtain clinically significant improvements in specific skills such as handwriting.

Concepts: Assessment, Skill, Training, Learning, Intelligence, Test, Standardized test, Skills


Observational learning plays an important role in surgical skills training, following the traditional model of learning from expertise. Recent findings have, however, highlighted the benefit of observing not only expert performance but also error-strewn performance. The aim of this study was to determine which model (novice vs. expert) would lead to the greatest benefits when learning robotically assisted surgical skills.

Concepts: Skill, Philosophy of science, Learning, Study skills, Knowledge, Expert, Play, Skills


Autologous cartilage grafting during open airway reconstruction is a complex skill instrumental to the success of the operation. Most trainees lack adequate opportunities to develop proficiency in this skill. We hypothesized that 3-dimensional (3D) printing and computer-aided design can be used to create a high-fidelity simulator for developing skills carving costal cartilage grafts for airway reconstruction. The rapid manufacturing and low cost of the simulator allow deployment in locations lacking expert instructors or cadaveric dissection, such as medical missions and Third World countries. In this blinded, prospective observational study, resident trainees completed a physical simulator exercise using a 3D-printed costal cartilage grafting tool. Participant assessment was performed using a Likert scale questionnaire, and airway grafts were assessed by a blinded expert surgeon. Most participants found this to be a very relevant training tool and highly rated the level of realism of the simulation tool.

Concepts: Scientific method, Observational study, Skill, Training, Computer graphics, Grafting, Third World, Skills