Transfer of skill engendered by complex task training under conditions of variable priority

Walter R. Boot, Chandramallika Basak, Kirk I. Erickson, Mark Neider, Daniel J. Simons, Monica Fabiani, Gabriele Gratton, Michelle W. Voss, Ruchika Prakash, Hyun Kyu Lee, Kathy A. Low, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explored the theoretical underpinnings of a commonly used training strategy by examining issues of training and transfer of skill in the context of a complex video game (Space Fortress, Donchin, 1989). Participants trained using one of two training regimens: Full Emphasis Training (FET) or Variable Priority Training (VPT). Transfer of training was assessed with a large battery of cognitive and psychomotor tasks ranging from basic laboratory paradigms measuring reasoning, memory, and attention to complex real-world simulations. Consistent with previous studies, VPT accelerated learning and maximized task mastery. However, the hypothesis that VPT would result in broader transfer of training received limited support. Rather, transfer was most evident in tasks that were most similar to the Space Fortress game itself. Results are discussed in terms of potential limitations of the VPT approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-357
Number of pages9
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Skill acquisition
  • Training
  • Transfer of training
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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