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Time rather than sleep appears to enhance off-line learning and transfer of learning of an implicit continuous task

Authors Al-Sharman A, Siengsukon C

Received 31 August 2013

Accepted for publication 29 October 2013

Published 5 March 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 27—36

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S53789

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Alham Al-Sharman, Catherine F Siengsukon

Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA

Abstract: There is increasing evidence that sleep promotes off-line enhancement of a variety of explicitly learned motor tasks in young adults. However, whether sleep promotes off-line consolidation of implicitly learned motor tasks is still under question. Furthermore, the role of sleep in promoting transfer of learning remains unknown. This study examined the role of sleep in learning and transfer of learning of an implicit continuous motor task. Twenty-three neurologically intact individuals (mean age 26.4 years) were randomly assigned to either a sleep group or a no-sleep group. The sleep group practiced a continuous tracking task in the evening and underwent retention and transfer testing the following morning, while the no-sleep group practiced the tracking task in the morning and underwent retention and transfer testing in the evening. The results show that in both the sleep and no-sleep groups, performance improved off-line without further practice for both the general skill and the sequence-specific skill. The results also indicate that sleep and time promote transfer of learning of both sequence-specific and general skill learning to a spatial and temporal variation of the motor task. These findings demonstrate that sleep does not play a critical role in promoting off-line learning and transfer of learning of an implicit continuous motor task.

Keywords: sleep, off-line learning, implicit learning, transfer, continuous task

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