The generalized motor program concept with invariant relative timing leads one to expect nearly perfect transfer of training to a motor pattern with another duration and considerably less transfer to a pattern with a different relative timing. In two experiments, subjects were asked to learn spatial–temporal patterns of limb action at the elbow. These expectations about differential transfer were examined by the use of two target patterns that differed only by a nonlinear transformation of the time scale. Both experiments failed to provide evidence that transfer breaks down if relative timing is changed. These outcomes are taken to suggest that the often observed invariant relative timing might not be a mandatory phenomenon due to the restriction of a generalized motor program to one particular temporal pattern. Rather, this invariance could perhaps be thought of as a strategic phenomenon caused by preferences for certain temporal organizations contingent upon particular spatial patterns.
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