Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 195, Issue 3, pp 419–427

A comparison of motor skill learning and retention in younger and older adults

Authors

    • Department of Psychology, Center for Research in Human DevelopmentConcordia University
  • Karen Z. H. Li
    • Department of Psychology, Center for Research in Human DevelopmentConcordia University
  • Virginia B. Penhune
    • Department of Psychology, Center for Research in Human DevelopmentConcordia University
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-009-1806-5

Cite this article as:
Fraser, S.A., Li, K.Z.H. & Penhune, V.B. Exp Brain Res (2009) 195: 419. doi:10.1007/s00221-009-1806-5

Abstract

The goal of the current study was to explore learning and short-term retention using a modified serial reaction time task. The multi-finger sequence task was designed to present repeated and random sequences in a completely interleaved fashion, giving participants within block, variable practice, on the two types of sequences. Eighteen younger adults (Mage = 24 years) and 15 older adults (Mage = 65 years) participated in the experiment. Participants were asked to respond on a piano keyboard to a visual stimulus that appeared in one of four squares on the computer screen. They were not informed that one of the sequences presented would repeat. Sequence-specific learning, within-day and across-days, was inferred from differences in accuracy and reaction time between repeated and random sequences. Age equivalence was observed in sequence-specific learning and retention across days, and suggests that older adults may benefit from variable practice.

Keywords

Motor skill learningAgingSerial reaction timeRetentionVariable practice

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009