Document Type : Research Paper I Open Access I Released under CC BY-NC 4.0 license


1 . PhD Student of Motor Learning, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Professor of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

3 Associate Professor of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of visual illusion on the learning of a targeting motor skill in children. The research method was semi-experimental with repeated measurement design and retention test. The statistical sample consisted of 36 children (10 years old) who were selected by convenience sampling method. They were divided into 3 groups: larger circle perception, smaller circle perception and control after the goal size had been estimated. The Ebbinghaus illusion displayed on the ground and the tennis ball to throw from top of the shoulder towards goal were used in this study. Firstly, the participants performed 10 trials at the pretest stage. Then, they performed six 10-trial blocks in the acquisition phase. 48 hours after the last acquisition session, a retention test was performed in 10 trials. To analyze the data, mixed analysis of variance with repeated measures, one-way analysis of variance and Tukey post hoc test were used. The results showed a significant difference among the groups both in the acquisition and retention phases and this difference was in favor of the smaller circle perception group. In general, the results of this study indicated the beneficial effect of visual illusion on learning a sport skill. Therefore, coaches and sport authorities are suggested to use this variable to improve performances and training sessions


1. Chiviacowsky S, Wulf G. Feedback after good trials enhances learning. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2007;78(2):40-7.
2. Badami R, VaezMousavi M, Wulf G, Namazizadeh M. Feedback about more accurate versus less accurate trials: Differential effects on self-confidence and activation. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2012;83(2):196-203.
3. Saemi E, Porter JM, Ghotbi-Varzaneh A, Zarghami M, Maleki F. Knowledge of results after relatively good trials enhances self-efficacy and motor learning. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 2012;13(4):378-82.
4. Ávila LT, Chiviacowsky S, Wulf G, Lewthwaite R. Positive social-comparative feedback enhances motor learning in children. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 2012;13(6):849-53.
5. Lewthwaite R, Wulf G. Social-comparative feedback affects motor skill learning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2010;63(4):738-49.
6. Wulf G, Chiviacowsky S, Lewthwaite R. Normative feedback effects on learning a timing task. Research quarterly for exercise and sport. 2010;81(4):425-31.
7. Wulf G, Chiviacowsky S, Lewthwaite R. Altering mindset can enhance motor learning in older adults. Psychology and Aging. 2012;27(1):14.
8. Trempe M, Sabourin M, Proteau L. Success modulates consolidation of a visuomotor adaptation task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 2012;38(1):52.
9. Clark SE, Ste-Marie DM. The impact of self-as-a-model interventions on children's self-regulation of learning and swimming performance. Journal of sports sciences. 2007;25(5):577-86.
10. Schmidt R, Lee T. Motor Learning and performance, 5E with web study guide: from principles to application: Human Kinetics; 2013.
11. Milner A, Goodale M. Oxford psychology series, No. 27. The visual brain in action. New York: Oxford University Press; 1995.
12. Kopiske KK, Bruno N, Hesse C, Schenk T, Franz VH. The functional subdivision of the visual brain: Is there a real illusion effect on action? A multi-lab replication study. cortex. 2016;79:130-52.
13. Milner AD, Goodale MA. Two visual systems re-viewed. Neuropsychologia. 2008;46(3):774-85.
14. Milner D, Goodale M. The visual brain in action: Oxford University Press; 2006.
15. Shim J, van der Kamp J, Rigby BR, Lutz R, Poolton JM, Masters RS. Taking aim at the Müller–Lyer goalkeeper illusion: An illusion bias in action that originates from the target not being optically specified. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 2014;40(3):1274.
16. Mackeith DC, Knox PC. Saccades and the Müller-Lyer illusion: implications for the two-visual-systems hypothesis. British and Irish Orthoptic Journal. 2015;9:23-9.
17. Cañal-Bruland R, van der Meer Y, Moerman J. Can visual illusions be used to facilitate sport skill learning? Journal of motor behavior. 2016;48(5):285-389.
18. Chauvel G, Wulf G, Maquestiaux F. Visual illusions can facilitate sport skill learning. Psychonomic bulletin & review. 2015;22(3):717-21.
19. Witt JK, Linkenauger SA, Proffitt DR. Get me out of this slump! Visual illusions improve sports performance. Psychological Science. 2012;23(4):397-9.
20. Wood G, Vine SJ, Wilson MR. The impact of visual illusions on perception, action planning, and motor performance. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. 2013;75(5):830-4.
21. Damisch L, Stoberock B, Mussweiler T. Keep your fingers crossed! How superstition improves performance. Psychological Science. 2010;21(7):1014-20.
22. Lee C, Linkenauger SA, Bakdash JZ, Joy-Gaba JA, Profitt DR. Putting like a pro: The role of positive contagion in golf performance and perception. PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26016.
23. Schum N, Franz VH, Jovanovic B, Schwarzer G. Object processing in visual perception and action in children and adults. Journal of experimental child psychology. 2012;112(2):161-77.
24. Ganel T, Goodale MA. Visual control of action but not perception requires analytical processing of object shape. Nature. 2003;426(6967):664.
25. Duemmler T, Franz VH, Jovanovic B, Schwarzer G. Effects of the Ebbinghaus illusion on children’s perception and grasping. Experimental Brain Research. 2008;186(2):249-60.
26. Gentilucci M, Benuzzi F, Bertolani L, Gangitano M. Visual illusions and the control of children arm movements. Neuropsychologia. 2001;39(2):132-9.
27. Hanisch C, Konczak J, Dohle C. The effect of the Ebbinghaus illusion on grasping behaviour of children. Experimental Brain Research. 2001;137(2):237-45.
28. Alloway TP, Gathercole SE, Pickering SJ. Verbal and visuospatial short‐term and working memory in children: Are they separable? Child development. 2006;77(6):1698-716.
29. Luciana M, Conklin HM, Hooper CJ, Yarger RS. The development of nonverbal working memory and executive control processes in adolescents. Child development. 2005;76(3):697-712.
30. Thomason ME, Race E, Burrows B, Whitfield-Gabrieli S, Glover GH, Gabrieli JD. Development of spatial and verbal working memory capacity in the human brain. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. 2009;21(2):316-32.
31. Capio C, Poolton J, Sit C, Holmstrom M, Masters R. Reducing errors benefits the field‐based learning of a fundamental movement skill in children. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 2013;23(2):181-8.
32. Vickers JN. Perception, cognition, and decision training: The quiet eye in action: Human Kinetics; 2007.