Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award





Jörn Diedrichsen

Second Advisor

Nicola Popp



Throughout our lifespan we obtain and refine our motor skills with the use of sensory feedback, such as learning how to play a piano. Research has suggested visual feedback is more advantageous to improve motor learning compared to other types of feedback. However, it is unclear if these advantages stem from the feedback being more relevant to the task. We developed an experimental design that tests the influence of visual, auditory and haptic feedback when acquiring a sequence learning task. The study uses a piano-like task, and therefore we propose that learning is enhanced by auditory and haptic feedback, rather than visual feedback. Participants practiced four 11-digit sequences using a keyboard-like device over the course of five days. Participants were assigned to one of the three feedback groups (i.e., visual, auditory or haptic). Through measuring the participants’ execution speed, the results displayed that the auditory group demonstrated greater learning compared to the visual group. During the last session, participants’ sensory feedback was removed to measure whether performance improvement was reliant on the modality that was present during learning. Performance was hindered to a greater extent in the haptic group in comparison to the auditory group. This suggests that auditory feedback is most helpful in learning a finger-sequencing task, however, once learning is acquired the auditory feedback is no longer needed. Interestingly, this demonstrates that feedback most relevant to the task may enhance performance but performance does not become reliant on the feedback that is associated to the task’s success.