Offline improvement occurs for temporal stability but not accuracy following practice of integer and non-integer rhythms
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Procedural learning benefits from memory processes occurring outside practice resulting in offline learning. Offline gains have been demonstrated almost exclusively for the ordinal structure of sequential motor tasks. Many skills also demand that the correct serial order of events be appropriately timed. Evidence indicates that the temporal aspect of a procedural skill can be encoded independent of serial order knowledge and governed by at least two distinct neural circuits. The present experiment determined if (a) offline gains emerge for temporal learning, and (b) if such gains occur for timing supervised by distinct timing systems. Participants experienced 216 practice trials of a 7-key press sequence that involved integer- or non-integer timing rhythms. Twenty-four hours after training 30 test trials were administered. Results revealed robust offline enhancement for timing performance of the non-integer based temporal sequences. This improvement was localized to stabilization of the required relative but not absolute time profiles. The neural circuitry central to supporting the performance of non-integer timing sequences is also a principal constituent of what is described as the "cognitive" timing system. Timing governed by this system appears most susceptible to offline gains via consolidation.
author list (cited authors)
Wright, D. L., Rhee, J., Blischke, K., Erlacher, D., & Brueckner, S.