It's common that once we perfect a task through practise, we tend to stop trying at it. However, a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that even after learning a task, whether it's tennis or playing music, continued practising leads to more efficient behaviour.
Image: Tom Hart.
We all know the mantra of "practise makes perfect", but chances are, once you've really nailed a task, you probably start to move onto new ones. For instance, if you get your backhand down in tennis, you'll move onto another skill. The authors of the study suspect that continued practise leads to both more efficient movements and thinking. Lead author Alaa Ahmed suggests the reason is rooted in the brain:
The brain could be modulating subtle features of arm muscle activity, recruiting other muscles or reducing its own activity to make the movements more efficiently.
In short, Ahmed suggests:
The message from this study is that in order to perform with less effort, keep on practising, even after it seems as if the task has been learned.
The benefits of continued practise might seem a bit obvious, but it's easy to relax and stop working as hard once you think you've perfected any given task. This study suggests that even if you don't notice any improvement, your brain and body continue to learn to be more efficient.
To Perform With Less Effort, Practice Beyond Perfection [Science Daily]