Consolidation of complex motor skill learning: Evidence for a delayed offline process

Diva Lugassy, Jasmine Herszage, Raphael Pilo, Tamar Brosh, Nitzan Censor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Following initial acquisition, studies across domains have shown that memories stabilize through consolidation processes, requiring a post-acquisition temporal interval to allow their occurrence. In procedural skill memories, consolidation not only stabilizes the memory, but also simultaneously enhances it by accumulating additional gains in performance. In addition, explicit skill tasks were previously shown to consolidate through sleep, whereas implicit tasks were consolidated following a time interval which did not include a period of sleep. Although previous research has been instrumental in utilizing simple motor tasks designed to model skill learning, whether and how skill consolidation processes operate in complex real-life environments remains to be determined. Here, we tested consolidation in a complex motor skill, used to train execution of fine-motor movements. Since the complex task was explicit, we hypothesized that consolidation will be evident immediately following sleep, as in simple explicit motor skills. However, results show that even though participants were aware of the goal of the complex skill task, consolidation was evident only 24 hr following skill acquisition, and not following a shorter 12 hr interval, even when the latter included sleep. An additional experiment verified that without a temporal interval longer than 12hr, the same skill training does not undergo complete consolidation. These results suggest that task complexity is a crucial characteristic determining the proper terms allowing full consolidation. Due to the enhanced ecological validity of this study, revealing the differences between complex and simple motor skills could enable the facilitation of advanced rehabilitation methods following neurological injuries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzsy123
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalSleep
Volume41
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • consolidation
  • fine-motor
  • offline gains
  • procedural memory
  • skill learning
  • sleep

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