Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Richard A. Magill


Currently, the pre-eminent model of central representation for motor skills is embodied in Schmidt's schema theory of discrete motor skill learning (Schmidt, 1975). Two experiments are reported here that contrast predictions from a schema abstraction model that is the basis for schema theory to those from a specific exemplar model of motor skill memory representation. In both experiments, subjects performed 300 trials per day of 3 variations of a 3-segment timing task over 4 days of acquisition. The subjects then either immediately transferred to 4 novel variations of the same task (Experiment 1) that varied in degree of environmental similarity to the exemplars experienced during acquisition, or performed two novel and two previously experienced exemplars following 24-hour and 1-week retention intervals (Experiment 2). The results indicated that novel task transfer was not affected by the contextual relationship between the acquisition and transfer exemplars, and that there was no advantage for a previously experienced exemplar over a novel exemplar after either a 24-hour or 1-week retention interval. These results are interpreted as being indicative of a schema abstraction model of memory representation.