Improving old tricks as new: Young adults learn from repeating everyday activities

Gil Meir Leizerowitz*, Ran Gabai, Meir Plotnik, Ofer Keren, Avi Karni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The notion that young healthy adults can substantially improve in activities that are part of their daily routine is often overlooked because it is assumed that such activities have come to be fully mastered. We followed, in young healthy adults, the effects of repeated executions of the Timed-Up-and-Go (TUG) task, a clinical test that assesses the ability to execute motor activities relevant to daily function-rising from a seated position, walking, turning and returning to a seated position. The participants (N = 15) performed 18 consecutive trials of the TUG in one session, and were retested on the following day and a week later. The participants were video recorded and wore inertial measurement units. Task execution times improved robustly; performance was well fitted by a power function, with large gains at the beginning of the session and nearing plateau in later trials, as one would expect in the learning of a novel task. Moreover, these gains were well retained overnight and a week later, with further gains accruing in the subsequent test-sessions. Significant intra-session and inter-session changes occurred in step kinematics as well; some aspects underwent intersessions recalibrations, but other aspects showed delayed inter-session changes, suggesting post-practice memory consolidation processes. Even common everyday tasks can be improved upon by practice; a small number of consecutive task repetitions can trigger lasting gains in young healthy individuals performing highly practiced routine tasks. This new learning in highly familiar tasks proceeded in a time-course characteristic of the acquisition of novel 'how to' (procedural) knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0285469
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume18
Issue number5 May
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2023

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