How Task Complexity and Stimulus Modality Affect Motor Execution: Target Accuracy, Response Timing and Hesitations Academic Article uri icon


  • Elite sports players are characterized by the ability to produce successful outcomes while attending to changing environmental conditions. Few studies have assessed whether the perceptual environment affects motor skill execution. To test the effect of changing task complexity and stimulus conditions, the authors examined response times and target accuracy of 12 elite Australian football players using a passing-based laboratory test. Data were assessed using mixed modeling and chi-square analyses. No differences were found in target accuracy for changes in complexity or stimulus condition. Decision, movement and total disposal time increased with complexity and decision hesitations were greater when distractions were present. Decision, movement and disposal time were faster for auditory in comparison to visual signals, and when free to choose, players passed more frequently to auditory rather than visual targets. These results provide perspective on how basic motor control processes such as reaction and response to stimuli are influenced in a complex motor skill. Findings suggest auditory stimuli should be included in decision-making studies and may be an important part of a decision-training environment.

publication date

  • 2015