Variability of Practice, Information Processing, and Decision Making—How Much Do We Know?

Decision-making is a complex action requiring efficient information processing. Specifically, in movement in which performance efficiency depends on reaction time, e.g., open-loop controlled movements, these processes may play a crucial role. Information processing includes three distinct stages, stimulus identification, response selection, and response programming. Mainly, response selection may play a substantial contribution to the reaction time and appropriate decision making. The duration of this stage depends on the number of possible choices an individual has to “screen” to make a proper decision. Given that reaction time is crucial in many sports, the possibilities of reducing it through practice are very tempting. The information processing and its relationship to the manner an individual is practicing are discussed. Especially the variability of practice issues will be explored. In variable practice conditions, an individual has to react to one or more stimuli and has to produce one of the many variations of the same movement or different movements they learned. One has to identify a stimulus appropriately and has to select a response optimally, i.e., choosing from as few choices as possible to reduce the reaction time. On the other hand, in constant practice conditions, an individual can be exposed to one or many stimuli. Still, there is only one variation of the movement that can be executed in the presence of a learned stimulus. Based on the information processing theory and the results of the research focusing on variability of practice, I discuss how the practice conditions may affect reaction time and, as a result, the decision-making process. I conceptually frame the possible implications of practice conditions on decision making related to information processing. In this review, a possible mechanism and relationship between practice conditions and decision-making are presented. Future research directions are presented.

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