With a series of novel arm-reaching tasks, we have shown that visuomotor sequence learning encompasses the acquisition of the order of sequence elements, and the ability to combine them in a single, skilled behavior. The first component, which is mostly declarative, is reflected by changes in movement onset time (OT); the second, which occurs without subject’s awareness, is measured by changes in kinematic variables, including movement time (MT). Key-press-based serial reaction time tasks (SRTT) have been used to investigate sequence learning and results interpreted as indicative of the implicit acquisition of the sequence order. One limitation to SRT studies, however, is that only one measure is used, the response time, the sum of OT and MT: this makes interpretation of which component is learnt difficult and disambiguation of implicit and explicit processes problematic. Here, we used an arm-reaching version of SRTT to propose a novel interpretation of such results. The pattern of response time changes we obtained was similar to the key-press-based tasks. However, there were significant differences between OT and MT, suggesting that both partial learning of the sequence order and skill improvement took place. Further analyses indicated that the learning of the sequence order might not occur without subjects’ awareness.
Incidental learning Intentional learning Implicit learning Explicit learning Motor strategy Movement time
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Supported by a grant from McDonnell Foundation (MFG), NIH R01 NS054864 (MFG), R01 NS055185 (GT) and a large grant from NPF (MFG, GT). We thank Dr. John Krakauer for countless discussions and helpful advice. Data were collected with custom-designed software, MotorTaskManager, produced by E.T.T. s.r.l. (http://www.ettsolutions.com).
Curran T, Keele S (1993) Attentional and nonattentional forms of sequence learning. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 19:189–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Destrebecqz A, Cleeremans A (2001) Can sequence learning be implicit? New evidence with the process dissociation procedure. Psychon Bull Rev 8:343–350PubMedGoogle Scholar
Doyon J, Gaudreau D, Laforce R Jr, Castonguay M, Bedard PJ, Bedard F, Bouchard JP (1997) Role of the striatum, cerebellum, and frontal lobes in the learning of a visuomotor sequence. Brain Cogn 34:218–245PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ghilardi MF, Alberoni M, Rossi M, Franceschi M, Mariani C, Fazio F (2000) Visual feedback has differential effects on reaching movements in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Res 876:112–123PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ghilardi MF, Eidelberg D, Silvestri G, Ghez C (2003) The differential effect of PD and normal aging on early explicit sequence learning. Neurology 60:1313–1319PubMedGoogle Scholar
Ghilardi MF, Feigin AS, Battaglia F, Silvestri G, Mattis P, Eidelberg D, Di Rocco A (2007) l-Dopa infusion does not improve explicit sequence learning in Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord 13:146–151PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ghilardi MF, Silvestri G, Feigin A, Mattis P, Zgaljardic D, Moisello C, Crupi D, Marinelli L, Dirocco A, Eidelberg D (2008) Implicit and explicit aspects of sequence learning in pre-symptomatic Huntington’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord 14:457–464PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ghilardi MF, Moisello C, Silvestri G, Ghez C, Krakauer JW (in press) Sequential motor skill learning comprises explicit and implicit components that consolidate differently. J NeurophysiolGoogle Scholar
Goedert KM, Willingham DB (2002) Patterns of interference in sequence learning and prism adaptation inconsistent with the consolidation hypothesis. Learn Mem 9:279–292PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grafton ST, Mazziotta JC, Presty S, Friston KJ, Frackowiak RS, Phelps ME (1992) Functional anatomy of human procedural learning determined with regional cerebral blood flow and PET. J Neurosci 12:2542–2548PubMedGoogle Scholar
Huber R, Ghilardi MF, Massimini M, Ferrarelli F, Riedner BA, Peterson MJ, Tononi G (2006) Arm immobilization causes cortical plastic changes and locally decreases sleep slow wave activity. Nat Neurosci 9:1169–1176PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
McIntosh AR, Rajah MN, Lobaugh NJ (1999) Interactions of prefrontal cortex in relation to awareness in sensory learning. Science 284:1531–1533PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moisello C, Bove M, Huber R, Abbruzzese G, Battaglia F, Tononi G, Ghilardi MF (2008a) Short-term limb immobilization affects motor performance. J Mot Behav 40:165–176PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moisello C, Sanguineti V, Bove M, Crupi D, Perfetti B, Ghilardi MF (2008b) Selection of motor strategy: I. Effects of task demands. Soc Neurosci Abstracts 861:22Google Scholar
Nissen M, Bullemer P (1987) Attentional requirements of learning: evidence from performance measures. Cogn Psychol 19:1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pascual-Leone A, Grafman J, Clark K, Stewart M, Massaquoi S, Lou JS, Hallett M (1993) Procedural learning in Parkinson’s disease and cerebellar degeneration. Ann Neurol 34:594–602PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Proteau L, Marteniuk RG, Lévesque L (1992) A sensorimotor basis for motor learning: evidence indicating specificity of practice. Q J Exp Psychol 44:557–575Google Scholar