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The role of nocturnal sleep on the retention, adaptability, and relearning rate of a motor skill


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Aim: The influence of sleep on the adaptability and relearning rate during learning of complex motor skills is still unknown, limiting the comprehension of the sleep role in motor memory consolidation. Thus, we aimed to investigate the nocturnal sleep influence on retention, adaptability, and relearning rate of the dart-throwing task. Methods: Sixty healthy adults were divided into two groups: SLEEP and WAKE. Both groups practiced an under-arm dart-throwing task. However, WAKE practiced in the morning and performed a retention phase in the evening, and SLEEP practiced in the evening and performed a retention phase in the morning of the next day. The practice and retention phases were separated by 12 h in both groups. There were analyses regarding retention (retention test), adaptability (delayed transfer test), and relearning rate (savings). Results: Both groups improved their performance across the acquisition phase and maintained it in the retention test. The groups did not demonstrate adaptability and did not demonstrate a significant difference in relearning rate. Conclusion: We conclude that nocturnal sleep did not modulate the consolidation of motor memories related to ballistic discrete motor skills.
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Neural Control of Movement
The role of nocturnal sleep on the retention, adaptability, and relearning
rate of a motor skill
Fernanda Yngrid Martins Sousa
, Yasmin de Melo Rocha e Silva
Ana Kariele da Silva Santos
, Gisele Carla dos Santos Palma
Renata Louise Ferreira Lemos
, Giordano Marcio Gatinho Bonuzzi
Universidade Estadual do Piauí, Departamento de Educação Física, Picos, PI, Brazil
Universidade de São Paulo, Escola de Educação Física e Esporte, São Paulo, SP, Brazil
Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Educação
Física, Petrolina, PE, Brazil.
Associate Editor: Angelina Zanesco .
Universidade Metropolitana de Santos, Faculdade de
Medicina, Santos, SP, Brazil;
Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho”,
Departamento de Educação Física, Instituto de Biociências, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil. E-mail:
Abstract - Aim: The inuence of sleep on the adaptability and relearning rate during learning of complex motor skills
is still unknown, limiting the comprehension of the sleep role in motor memory consolidation. Thus, we aimed to
investigate the nocturnal sleep inuence on retention, adaptability, and relearning rate of the dart-throwing task. Me-
thods: Sixty healthy adults were divided into two groups: SLEEP and WAKE. Both groups practiced an under-arm
dart-throwing task. However, WAKE practiced in the morning and performed a retention phase in the evening, and
SLEEP practiced in the evening and performed a retention phase in the morning of the next day. The practice and reten-
tion phases were separated by 12 h in both groups. There were analyses regarding retention (retention test), adaptability
(delayed transfer test), and relearning rate (savings). Results: Both groups improved their performance across the
acquisition phase and maintained it in the retention test. The groups did not demonstrate adaptability and did not
demonstrate a signicant difference in relearning rate. Conclusion: We conclude that nocturnal sleep did not modulate
the consolidation of motor memories related to ballistic discrete motor skills.
Keywords: sleep, consolidation, motor memory, discrete motor skill, motor learning.
Motor learning is a set of processes associated with prac-
tice or experience leading to relatively permanent changes
in the capability for skilled movement
. During motor skill
acquisition, practice-dependent behavioral improvements
are derived from changes in functional networks in the
Central Nervous System (CNS), which are recognized as
motor memories
Motor memory creation is a time-dependent process,
mainly composed of three phases: encoding, consolida-
tion, and retrieval
. Encoding is the initial phase when
the memory engram creation occurs
; for motor memories,
the encoding mainly happens during practice
. Consolida-
tion is the post-practice phase when the memory becomes
more robust and stable with less susceptibility to inter-
. Then, savings of the improvement achieved
during practice (retrieval) is consolidation-dependent
Therefore, the relative permanence of the improved per-
formance which characterizes motor learning is mainly
developed during the consolidation phase
It has been suggested that motor memory consolida-
tion occurs during wakefulness periods that are temporally
close to practice and during sleep
. In this way, it is sup-
posed that sleep has a critical role in motor memory con-
solidation and consequently in motor learning
Several behavior-based studies identied that noc-
turnal sleep stabilizes
or even enhances
motor per-
formance after practice. Interestingly, some ndings
demonstrated that whole-body and complex motor skills
are more susceptible to consolidation sleep-dependent
than less complex motor skills, such as
nger sequences
or continuous motor tracking tasks
In fact, there is a call to action in the Motor learning area
to use complex motor skills as the to-be-learn motor task
in the experiments. Given that, the principles created by
simple task studies are not generalized to complex motor
, such as sports skills and activities of daily living.
DOI: Motriz, Rio Claro, v. 28, 2022, e10220017221
Only one study with complex motor skills (dance
routine implanted on a video game - PlayStation 2, Game
Dance Stage) veried whether the nocturnal sleep inu-
ences the adaptability of the improved performance to a
new variety of performance contexts characteristics
. In
this case, the nocturnal sleep did not impact the perfor-
mance of a new sequence of a dance routine. However, in
this study, Genzel et al.
did not verify the effect of sleep
on the adaptability of the motor task practiced; instead,
they investigated whether sleep inuences the transfer to a
new motor skill (a new dance routine). Therefore, the
effects of sleep on the adaptability of a motor task pre-
viously practiced still is unknown.
Also, an interesting aspect that is still unlled in this
literature is whether sleep can impact a subsequent prac-
tice. It has been postulated that reacquiring a skill that has
already been learned once before (but then apparently for-
gotten or partly remained) is typically faster than learning
it the rst time, being this phenomenon called savings
Also, to the best of our knowledge, no studies have
directly tested the inuence of nocturnal sleep on savings.
Regarding Christina
, there is an improvement in the
inference about motor memory construct underlying lear-
ning and retention as more than less performance informa-
tion is known
. Therefore, including savings and transfer
measures can benet motor learning inferences (for a
review about transfer, savings, and retention in motor
learning inference, see Christina and colleagues
In this way, we aimed to investigate the inuence of
nocturnal sleep on complex motor skill learning. More
specically, we assess the impact of the nocturnal sleep on
1- retention, 2 - adaptability through a transfer test, and 3 -
relearning (savings). Based on previous studies, we hypo-
thesized that a nocturnal sleep would enhance the persis-
tence and adaptability of the improved performance, and it
would induce a faster relearning rate.
The ethics board from the State University of Piaui
approved this study (protocol number.
30227720.0.0000.5209). All participants signed the con-
sent term before participation. There were no monetary or
other types of compensation to participate in this study.
All experiment was conducted following Helsinki
We recruited 60 participants from the local uni-
versity community, aged 18-39 years old (M = 25.35;
SD = 5.65), 31 men and 29 women. The inclusion criteria
were: 1 - Visual, neuromotor, and cognitive conditions for
understanding and executing the proposed tasks; 2 - Right-
handed regarding the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory
The exclusion criteria were: 1 - Osteoarticular diseases or
disfunction which unviable the performance of the pro-
posed activities; 2- Do not use a corrective lens in case the
participant has unsatisfactory visual acuity; 3 - Previous
experience in the dart-throwing task. 4 - The participants
were oriented to have good nocturnal sleep one day before
and during the experiment. They needed to have 7-9 h of
nocturnal sleep and subjectively perceive the nights of
sleep as satisfactory to recover for the next day. There was
no participant removed concerning this last criterion.
Instruments and tasks
The participants practiced an underarm dart-throw-
ing task used in previous motor learning studies (i.e., Al-
Abood et al.
). The task goal was to score as many points
as possible by throwing darts (Winmax® WMG50374)
with the dominant arm towards a target dartboard. The tar-
get was placed on the oor 3 m away from a throwing line.
The darts had 30 g and a length of 15 cm. The target con-
tained ten concentric circles, with the middle circle having
a diameter of 2.25 cm, with each other circle increasing by
2.25 cm in radius. We determined 10 points to trials that
hit the bullseye with each concentric circle radiating out
from the decreasing by one point. Hence, the outermost
circle was awarded only one point. If the dart hit the out-
side of the target, it was attributed 0 points.
Design and procedures
After the participants signed the informed consent,
they were randomly allocated into two groups: the Sleep
Group (SLEEP) (n = 30), which had a nocturnal sleep
between the acquisition phase and the retention phase, and
the Wakefulness group (WAKE) (n = 30) that completed
the acquisition phase and retention test in the same day.
To characterize the chronic sleep condition of the
participants, rstly, they answered the Pittsburgh Sleep
Quality Index (PSQI). After, they received instructions
about the motor task. Regarding the task's goal, the parti-
cipants received the following verbal instruction: “try to
throw the dart as accurately as possible into the center of
the target”. Also, they received visual instruction concern-
ing the movement parameters through a video of a skilled
person performing the task.
After the instructions, the participants performed 3
trials to familiarize themselves with the task. Following,
they completed a pre-test composed of 5 trials. The acqui-
sition phase was composed of 115 trials organized in 23
blocks. The participants rested 1 minute among the blocks
of practice to avoid deleterious effects from fatigue. After
practice, the participants performed a post-test with simi-
lar conditions to the pre-test. After 12 h from the post-test
began the retention phase, the participants performed a
retention test identical to the pre-test and post-test. Then,
the participants performed a delayed transfer test at a dis-
tance of 4 m to the target, composed of 1 block of 5 trials.
Finally, the target was reallocated to 3 m away from the
2 Sleep and motor learning
participants; then, the participants performed 24 blocks of
5 trials interspersed with 1 minute of rest to assess the
relearning rate (savings).
The unique aspect that differentiated the SLEEP and
WAKE was the time of day that the acquisition phase and
the retention test were allocated. The WAKE performed
the acquisition phase between 7:00 and 8:00 am, and the
retention test was performed at night on the same day,
between 7:00 and 8:00 pm. SLEEP had the acquisition
phase between 8:00 and 9:00 pm, and the retention test
was performed between 8:00 and 9:00 am on the follow-
ing day. The participants were oriented to wake up 1 h be-
fore the tests in the morning. The general experimental
design can be checked in Figure 1.
We assessed the motor performance of the partici-
pants through Root Mean Square Error (RMSE), being the
total amount of “spread” of the movements about the tar-
get, so it represents an overall measure of how successful
the performer was in achieving the target
, through the
RMSE =ffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
XxiTð Þ2=n
where x
= score on trial i, T = score maximum of the tar-
get, n = number of trials.
Statistical analysis
We used STATISTICA 11.0 (StatSoft Inc., Tulsa,
OK, USA) and Microsoft Excel 365 software for statistical
analyses adopting a 5% signicance level. We evaluated
the normality and homogeneity of the data with the Sha-
piro Wilks and Levene tests, respectively. We compared
TSQI (sum of the components) between the groups using
the Student's t-test.
We performed an ANOVA two-way - 2 groups
(SLEEP, WAKE) x 4 times (pre-test, post-test, retention
test, and transfer test) with RMSE to verify whether sleep
inuenced motor improvement, retention, and adapt-
ability. Tukey test was used for post hoc analyses. We
evaluated the savings by computing the number of blocks
of trials required for the participants to reach the mean
performance achieved in the post-test during the savings
phase. Next, we compared the number of blocks between
SLEEP and WAKE through a Student's t-test.
Lastly, we addressed whether the chronic quality
sleep identied by TSQI inuences the consolidation pro-
cess of the SLEEP, comparing the RMSE in the retention
test between individuals with poor and good sleep quality
through a Student's t-test.
Regarding the PSQI, there was no signicant diffe-
rence between SLEEP and WAKE for the sum of the com-
ponents (p = 0.12; SLEEP M = 4.76, SD = 2.56; WAKE
M = 5.96, SD = 3.40). In the SLEEP, 11 participants had
poor sleep quality, while 19 had good sleep quality; for
WAKE, 14 participants had poor sleep quality, and 16 par-
ticipants had regular sleep quality.
Analyzing the RMSE in comparing the pre-test,
post-test, retention test, and transfer test (Figure 2), the
two-way ANOVA did not demonstrate interaction effects
and statistical signicance in the Group factor. However,
the Time factor was statistically signicant (F
= 4.79,
p < 0.01, η
= 0.07). The Tukey post hoc test revealed
that the post-test (p = 0.01) and the retention test
(p < 0.05) differed signicantly from the pre-test. There
Figure 1 - Experimental design timeline.
Sousa et al. 3
was no signicant difference between the pre-test and
transfer test (p = 0.91), indicating that groups did not
demonstrate adaptability independently of the nocturnal
sleep occurrence. Thus, our ndings indicated that
SLEEP and WAKE improved their performance, main-
tained it in the 12 h-retention test, and did not demons-
trate adaptability in the delayed transfer test, without
difference between them.
Lastly, our savings analysis through the students’ t-
test revealed no signicant difference between SLEEP and
WAKE regarding the relearning rate (p = 0.88, SLEEP:
M = 3.56, SD = 4.76, WAKE: M = 3.40, SD = 3.71)
(Figure 3). These ndings indicate that nocturnal sleep did
not impact the relearning rate (savings) of a motor skill
previously practiced.
Finally, there was no signicant difference for
RMSE in the retention test between SLEEP participants
classied with good and poor sleep quality in PSQI
(p = 0.12; poor: M = 7.85, SD = 1.23, good: M = 8.04,
SD = 1.08), which suggests that the chronic quality sleep
did not inuence the consolidation process of the SLEEP.
We investigated whether nocturnal sleep inuences
the learning of a complex discrete motor skill. We adopted
an experimental design that allowed us to infer the noctur-
nal sleep role in the retention, adaptability, and relearning
rate. Our ndings revealed that nocturnal sleep did not
inuence the retention, adaptability, and relearning rate.
The SLEEP and WAKE groups demonstrated motor learn-
ing with the same behavior, which did not corroborate
previous studies.
Given that motor learning is a process composed of
improvement (gains in motor performance derived from
practice), consistency (performance becomes increasingly
more consistent), persistence (relatively permanent impro-
vement in performance), and adaptability (the improved
performance is adaptable to a variety of performance con-
text characteristics)
. Our study was the rst that includes
a complete inference about the essential characteristics of
the performance across the motor learning processes in the
experimental design. Previous studies did not include
transfer tests and savings analyses in their experiments,
which may induce an incomplete assessment of motor
memory creation
Even with the lack of inference about adaptability
and savings in previous studies, the inuence of sleep on
motor memory consolidation and motor learning is con-
sistently conrmed
. The difference between our
ndings with the previous studies can be related to the fact
that the inuence of sleep on motor memory consolidation
is task characteristic-dependent
It has been supposed that tasks with a strong cogni-
tive component tend to be supported by sleep-dependent
, which may explain why complex and whole-
body motor tasks are more inuenced by sleep-dependent
ofine processes, given their higher cognitive demand
. It
has been suggested that some neuronal circuits involved in
motor learning are consolidated in the wakefulness period
while others are sleep-dependents
One aspect that maybe be related to the difference
between our ndings and the previous results in the litera-
ture is the task characteristics. In our study, we assessed
the role of nocturnal sleep in the learning of a discrete
motor task. In contrast, previous studies used bimanual
arm movements
, shooter video game task
, bimanual
nger tapping tasks
, unrestricted reaching task with the
Figure 2 - Performance on the underarm dart-throwing task as assessed
by root means square (RMSE) across practice, retention, and transfer
period. Data are presented as mean and 95% condence interval by each
group. * = signicant difference in Time factor in comparison to pre-test.
Figure 3 - Number of blocks during the relearning phase needed to
achieve the post-test mean performance for each participant. Data show
the mean (solid line) and individual data (dots).
4 Sleep and motor learning
non-dominant hand involving horizontal displace-
, dance choreography in a videogame appara-
, nger tapping task, pursuit tracking task, and
countermovement jump (60% of individual maximum)
and a locomotor task under dual-task requirement
. Ana-
lyzing all these studies, just one did not report the diffe-
rence between wakefulness and nocturnal sleep in the
retention test
. This study used a countermovement jump
task (60% of individual maximum), a discrete task as the
underarm dart-throwing task. Nocturnal sleep improved
motor consolidation for all motor tasks (serial or conti-
nuous), inducing a better retention test.
Classical studies already had signalized that discrete
motor skills demonstrate less retention than continuous
motor skills
. Two hypotheses have been used to ex-
plain this phenomenon
: 1 - Discrete motor skills have
more cognitive demands that are less robust to the for-
gotten than motor components, 2 - The practice of discrete
motor skills typically consists of a single adjustment or
action, receiving less amount of motor practice than conti-
nuous tasks, for example.
However, a third hypothesis can be created based on
our and previous ndings. We suppose that the consolida-
tion of discrete motor skills is less susceptible to sleep-
dependent processes, allowing less robustness against for-
getfulness for this type of motor memory. In this way,
neurocognitive ndings have indicated parallel neural net-
works to process and store movement components and
goal components of the motor skill to be learned
Additionally, the goal component is processed and stored
during sleep, while the movement component is wakeful-
The primary mechanism to improve the motor per-
formance of discrete motor skills (such as countermove-
ment jump and dart-throwing tasks) is to enhance the
movement component (parameterization of force and
speed) because the goal component remains the same
among the trials (jump in a specic height or throw it into
the center of the target). This task-specic demand could
induce a lower effect from the sleep-dependent consolida-
tion processes for discrete motor skills, which explains our
results compared to previous studies.
Further investigations can address the effect of the
nocturnal sleep on the consolidation of different complex
motor tasks (serial, discrete and continuous tasks) to verify
whether the characteristics of the task inuence the sleep-
dependent consolidation participation. These further stu-
dies should include transfer tests and saving analyses to
verify the motor memory creation process, as we did in
this study.
In our study, we controlled the amount of sleep in the
SLEEP group (7-9 h), the chronic quality of the sleep
through the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and
the time to wake up before the retention test (1 h). Ho-
wever, we did not control the sleep quality between the
acquisition phase and retention test for SLEEP. It can be
interpreted as a limitation because sleep quality inuences
the potential of motor memory consolidation
We adopted a “varied time design” (AM-PM versus
PM-AM) to study the role of sleep on motor memory con-
solidation. It has been well documented that the circadian
cycle is a covariable in this design
. However, other
designs also have their limitations. For example, using nap
as an independent variable with two groups practicing at
the same period can avoid the inuence of the circadian
. However, nap design does not engage the same
nocturnal sleep mechanisms
. Also, we have the “depri-
vation design”
, which both groups practiced in the
evening and tested on the following day. Though, one
group remains without sleep. In this case, we could control
the circadian cycle effects, but we have the detrimental
somnolence effect on the retention test for the experi-
mental group
. Further studies may include different
experimental designs (varied time, nap, and deprivation)
to provide a complementary comprehension of the sleep
role in learning complex motor skills.
Our results suggest that nocturnal sleep does not
inuence the learning of a discrete motor skill. Speci-
cally, nocturnal sleep does not affect the retention, adapt-
ability, and relearning rate of a discrete motor skill. We
believe that the consolidation process of discrete motor
skills is mainly based on wakefulness-dependent con-
solidation processes, given the low demand for movement
components of discrete motor skills compared to serial or
continuous motor tasks.
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Corresponding author
Giordano Marcio Gatinho Bonuzzi, Universidade Estadual
do Piauí, Departamento de Educação Física, Picos, PI,
Manuscript received on October 29, 2021
Manuscript accepted on May 5, 2022
Motriz. The Journal of Physical Education. UNESP. Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
- eISSN: 1980-6574 - under a license Creative Commons - Version 4.0
6 Sleep and motor learning
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It is widely accepted that sleep better facilitates the consolidation of motor memories than does a corresponding wake interval (King et al., 2017). However, no in-depth analysis of the various motor tasks and their relative sleep gain has been conducted so far. Therefore, the present meta-analysis considered 48 studies with a total of 53 sleep (n = 829) and 53 wake (n = 825) groups. An overall comparison between all sleep and wake groups resulted in a small effect for the relative sleep gain in motor memory consolidation (g = 0.43). While no subgroup differences were identified for differing designs, a small effect for the finger tapping task (g = 0.47) and a medium effect for the mirror tracing task (g = 0.62) were found. In summary, the meta-analysis substantiates that sleep generally benefits the consolidation of motor memories. However, to further our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this effect, examining certain task dimensions and their relative sleep gain would be a promising direction for future research.
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Motor learning encompasses a wide range of phenomena, ranging from relatively low‐level mechanisms for maintaining calibration of our movements, to making high‐level cognitive decisions about how to act in a novel situation. We survey the major existing approaches to characterizing motor learning at both the behavioral and neural level. In particular, we critically review two long‐standing paradigms used in motor learning research—adaptation and sequence learning. We discuss the extent to which these paradigms can be considered models of motor skill acquisition, defined as the incremental improvement in our ability to rapidly select and then precisely execute appropriate actions, and conclude that they fall short of doing so. We then discuss two classes of emerging research paradigms—learning of arbitrary visuomotor mappings de novo and learning to execute movements with improved acuity—that more effectively address the acquisition of motor skill. Future work will be needed to determine the degree to which laboratory‐based studies of skill, as described in this review, will relate to true expertise, which is likely dependent on the effects of practice on multiple cognitive processes that go beyond traditional sensorimotor neural architecture. © 2019 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 9:613‐663, 2019.
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Posttraining consolidation, also known as offline learning, refers to neuroplastic processes and systemic reorganization by which newly acquired skills are converted from an initially transient state into a more permanent state. An extensive amount of research on cognitive and fine motor tasks has shown that sleep is able to enhance these processes, resulting in more stable declarative and procedural memory traces. On the other hand, limited evidence exists concerning the relationship between sleep and learning of gross motor skills. We are particularly interested in this relationship with the learning of gross motor skills in adulthood, such as in the case of sports, performing arts, devised experimental tasks, and rehabilitation practice. Thus, the present review focuses on sleep and gross motor learning (GML) in adults. The literature on the impact of sleep on GML, the consequences of sleep deprivation, and the influence of GML on sleep architecture were evaluated for this review. While sleep has proven to be beneficial for most gross motor tasks, sleep deprivation in turn has not always resulted in performance decay. Furthermore, correlations between motor performance and sleep parameters have been found. These results are of potential importance for integrating sleep in physiotherapeutic interventions, especially for patients with impaired gross motor functions.
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Nocturnal sleep effects on memory consolidation following gross motor sequence learning were examined using a complex arm movement task. This task required participants to produce non-regular spatial patterns in the horizontal plane by successively fitting a small peg into different target-holes on an electronic pegboard. The respective reaching movements typically differed in amplitude and direction. Targets were visualized prior to each transport movement on a computer screen. With this task we tested 18 subjects (22.6 +/- 1.9 years; 8 female) using a between-subjects design. Participants initially learned a 10-element arm movement sequence either in the morning or in the evening. Performance was retested under free recall requirements 15 min post training, as well as 12 and 24 h later. Thus, each group was provided with one sleep-filled and one wake retention interval. Dependent variables were error rate (number of Erroneous Sequences, ES) and average sequence execution time (correct sequences only). Performance improved during acquisition. Error rate remained stable across retention. Sequence execution time (inverse to execution speed) significantly decreased again during the sleep-filled retention intervals, but remained stable during the respective wake intervals. These results corroborate recent findings on sleep-related enhancement consolidation in ecological valid, complex gross motor tasks. At the same time, they suggest this effect to be truly memory-based and independent from repeated access to extrinsic sequence information during retests.
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It is widely believed that sleep is critical to the consolidation of learning and memory. In some skill domains, performance has been shown to improve by 20% or more following sleep, suggesting that sleep enhances learning. However, recent work suggests that those performance gains may be driven by several factors that are unrelated to sleep consolidation, inviting a reconsideration of sleep's theoretical role in the consolidation of procedural memories. Here we report the first comprehensive investigation of that possibility for the case of motor sequence learning. Quantitative meta-analyses involving 34 articles, 88 experimental groups and 1,296 subjects confirmed the empirical pattern of a large performance gain following sleep and a significantly smaller gain following wakefulness. However, the results also confirm strong moderating effects of 4 previously hypothesized variables: averaging in the calculation of prepost gain scores, build-up of reactive inhibition over training, time of testing, and training duration, along with 1 supplemental variable, elderly status. With those variables accounted for, there was no evidence that sleep enhances learning. Thus, the literature speaks against, rather than for, the enhancement hypothesis. Overall there was relatively better performance after sleep than after wakefulness, suggesting that sleep may stabilize memory. That effect, however, was not consistent across different experimental designs. We conclude that sleep does not enhance motor learning and that the role of sleep in the stabilization of memory cannot be conclusively determined based on the literature to date. We discuss challenges and opportunities for the field, make recommendations for improved experimental design, and suggest approaches to data analysis that eliminate confounds due to averaging over online learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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It is often suggested that sleep-dependent consolidation of motor learning is impaired in older adults. The current study challenges this view and suggests that the degree of motor consolidation seen with sleep in older age groups depends on the kinematic demands of the task. We show that, when tested with a classic sequence learning task, requiring individuated finger movements, older adults did not show sleep-dependent consolidation. By contrast, when tested with an adapted sequence learning task, in which movements were performed with the whole hand, sleep-dependent motor improvement was observed in older adults. We suggest that age-related decline in fine motor dexterity may in part be responsible for the previously described deficit in sleep-dependent motor consolidation with aging.
For the past two decades, it has generally been accepted that sleep benefits motor memory consolidation processes. This notion, however, has been challenged by recent studies and thus the sleep and motor memory story is equivocal. Currently, and in contrast to the declarative memory domain, a comprehensive overview and synthesis of the effects of post-learning sleep on the behavioral and neural correlates of motor memory consolidation is not available. We therefore provide an extensive review of the literature in order to highlight that sleep-dependent motor memory consolidation depends upon multiple boundary conditions, including particular features of the motor task, the recruitment of relevant neural substrates (and the hippocampus in particular), as well as the specific architecture of the intervening sleep period (specifically, sleep spindle and slow wave activity). For our field to continue to advance, future research must consider the multifaceted nature of sleep-related motor memory consolidation.
Rehabilitation is a form of directed training and is therefore predicated on the idea that patients respond to such training by learning. Current concepts in motor learning are reviewed. Recovery is not synonymous with re-learning and that it is important to be specific about what learning mechanism is being targeted by any given therapy. There is a unique milieu of heightened plasticity post-stroke that is responsible for reduction in impairment both through spontaneous biological recovery and increased responsiveness to training. In the chronic phase of stroke, plasticity returns to normal levels and learning for the most part only leads to task-specific compensation. Thus, new forms of intervention may have quite distinct effects depending on whether they are initiated in the sensitive period after stroke or in the chronic phase. It is to be hoped that new pharmacological and non-invasive brain stimulation approaches will allow the post-stroke sensitive period to be augmented, extended, and re-opened.
While the influence of sleep on motor memory consolidation has been extensively investigated, its relation to initial skill acquisition is less well understood. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the influence of sleep quality and quantity on subsequent motor skill acquisition in young adults without sleep disorders. Fifty-five healthy adults (mean age = 23.8 years; 34 women) wore actigraph wristbands for 4 nights, which provided data on sleep patterns before the experiment, and then returned to the laboratory to engage in a motor sequence learning task (explicit 5-item finger sequence tapping task). Indicators of sleep quality and quantity were then regressed on a measure of motor skill acquisition (Gains Within Training, GWT). Wake After Sleep Onset (WASO; i.e., the total amount of time the participants spent awake after falling asleep) was significantly and negatively related to GWT. This effect was not because of general arousal level, which was measured immediately before the motor task. Conversely, there was no relationship between GWT and sleep duration or self-reported sleep quality. These results indicate that sleep quality, as assessed by WASO and objectively measured with actigraphy before the motor task, significantly impacts motor skill acquisition in young healthy adults without sleep disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record
This paper reviews the literature on retention and transfer of motor skills to determine what is currently known about these two topics and to apply this knowledge to sport and physical education environments. Within each topic, eight areas are identified as being particularly useful in bridging the gap between the laboratory and the world of the practitioner. In some of these areas, however, it is acknowledged that the present state of knowledge is less than adequate for making generalizations to applied settings. Therefore, more research is needed that is both theoretically and empirically based and from which practitioners can draw their technology.