Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 201, Issue 2, pp 351–358

Sleep has no critical role in implicit motor sequence learning in young and old adults


    • Brain and Language Lab, Department of NeuroscienceGeorgetown University
    • Institute of PsychologyUniversity of Szeged
  • Karolina Janacsek
    • Institute of PsychologyUniversity of Szeged
  • Zsuzsa Londe
    • Department of Applied LinguisticsUniversity of California
  • Michael T. Ullman
    • Brain and Language Lab, Department of NeuroscienceGeorgetown University
  • Darlene V. Howard
    • Department of PsychologyGeorgetown University
  • James H. HowardJr.
    • Department of PsychologyGeorgetown University
    • Department of PsychologyThe Catholic University of America
Research Note

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-009-2024-x

Cite this article as:
Nemeth, D., Janacsek, K., Londe, Z. et al. Exp Brain Res (2010) 201: 351. doi:10.1007/s00221-009-2024-x


The influence of sleep on motor skill consolidation has been a research topic of increasing interest. In this study, we distinguished general skill learning from sequence-specific learning in a probabilistic implicit sequence learning task (alternating serial reaction time) in young and old adults before and after a 12-h offline interval which did or did not contain sleep (p.m.–a.m. and a.m.–p.m. groups, respectively). The results showed that general skill learning, as assessed via overall reaction time, improved offline in both the young and older groups, with the young group improving more than the old. However, the improvement was not sleep-dependent, in that there was no difference between the a.m.–p.m. and p.m.–a.m. groups. We did not find sequence-specific offline improvement in either age group for the a.m.–either p.m. or p.m.–a.m. groups, suggesting that consolidation of this kind of implicit motor sequence learning may not be influenced by sleep.


Implicit sequence learningAlternating serial reaction time taskAgingSleepMemory consolidation

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© Springer-Verlag 2009