Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 205–216

Stages of motor skill learning


DOI: 10.1385/MN:32:3:205

Cite this article as:
Luft, A.R. & Buitrago, M.M. Mol Neurobiol (2005) 32: 205. doi:10.1385/MN:32:3:205


Successful learning of a motor skill requires repetitive training. Once the skill is mastered, it can be remembered for a long period of time. The durable memory makes motor skill learning an interesting paradigm for the study of learning and memory mechanisms. To gain better understanding, one scientific approach is to dissect the process into stages and to study these as well as their interactions. This article covers the growing evidence that motor skill learning advances through stages, in which different storage mechanisms predominate. The acquisition phase is characterized by fast (within session) and slow learning (between sessions). For a short period following the initial training sessions, the skill is labile to interference by other skills and by protein synthesis inhibition, indicating that consolidation processes occur during rest periods between training sessions. During training as well as rest periods, activation in different brain regions changes dynamically. Evidence for stages in motor skill learning is provided by experiments using behavioral, electrophysiological, functional imaging, and cellular/molecular methods.

Index Entries

Motor learning plasticity memory electrophysiology gene functional imaging protein synthesis 

Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Abteilung Allgemeine Neurologie, Hertie Institut für Klinische HirnforschungUniversität TübingenTübingenGermany

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