Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ben Sidaway


Neuropsychological research examining hemispheric function has recently revealed important, and previously unrecognized, perceptual-motor processing advantages in the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This research has also highlighted verbal-motor disruption problems in the performance of motor skills that may be predictable given an understanding of hemispheric specialization and function. Applied research examining methodology to optimize brain functioning in the learning of motor skills has ignored this neuropsychological research. Instead, applied research interest has focussed upon an individual difference phenomenon known as hemisphericity, which affects approximately 25% of the population. An individual presenting hemisphericity appears biased toward a left or right hemisphere processing style regardless of task demands. Previous research has suggested that preferred teaching strategies may be necessary for individuals who present hemisphericity (Murray, 1979). Experiment 1 re-examined this notion in the learning of a juggling skill. The three teaching conditions in this study accounted for the more recent neuropsychological, research findings. The results showed that, contrary to Murray's preferred teaching notion, hemisphericity subjects acquired and retained the skill best in an interhemispheric teaching condition in which both hemispheres were stimulated to contribute to the learning process. Fundamental to the success of the interhemispheric teaching approach is the use of verbal cues designed to limit verbal-motor disruption and to maximize interhemispheric interaction by stimulating both left and right hemisphere perceptual-motor processes. Experiment 2 examined the role of these cues by manipulating the nature of verbal cue structure in learning juggling. The results showed that verbal cues that matched verbal-motor timing, and minimized phonetic difficulty, enhanced the acquisition and retention of the skill. The differential effects found for gender are explained by recourse to basic lateralized cerebral function research. The results of Experiment 2 show that verbal-motor disruption can be overcome with practice and that learning achieved is resistant under transfer conditions. These findings are unique because previous basic research has failed to employ learning paradigms in studying verbal-motor disruption. The discussion that follows considers the basic and applied implications of these findings.