ABSTRACT: It has been demonstrated that learning a second motor task after having learned a first task may interfere with the long-term consolidation of the first task. However, little is known about immediate changes in the representation of the motor memory in the early acquisition phase within the first minutes of the learning process. Therefore, we investigated such early interference effects with an implicit serial reaction time task in 55 healthy subjects. Each subject performed either a sequence learning task involving two different sequences, or a random control task. The results showed that learning the first sequence led to only a slight, short-lived interference effect in the early acquisition phase of the second sequence. Overall, learning of neither sequence was impaired. Furthermore, the two processes, sequence-unrelated task learning (i.e. general motor training) and the sequence learning itself did not appear to interfere with each other. In conclusion, although the long-term consolidation of a motor memory has been shown to be sensitive to other interfering memories, the present study suggests that the brain is initially able to acquire more than one new motor sequence within a short space of time without significant interference.
Experimental Brain Research 07/2009; 196(2):253-61. · 2.39 Impact Factor