Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Motor Memory: Skills Slip Most Easily In First Hours After Learning

Date:
August 7, 1997
Source:
University Of Maryland, Baltimore
Summary:
The first six hours after a motor skill is learned are crucial to formation of permanent, automatic memory for performing that skill. During those hours, the brain forms an internal model or blueprint for the skill and moves it from one part of the brain to another for storage, researchers report in this week's issue of the journal Science.

They say practice makes perfect, but when it comes to skills involving movement and coordination, a more critical factor appears to be the simple passage of time.

The first six hours after a motor skill—such as riding a bicycle—is learned comprise a window of vulnerability during which the skill can be impaired or even lost by attempting to learn a second motor task. During those hours, researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say, the central nervous system is consolidating a pattern of neural pathways that control performance of the task, moving them from one part of the brain to others in the process.

Dr. Henry H. Holcomb, professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, and Dr. Reza Shadmehr, a biomedical engineering professor at Johns Hopkins, report their findings in the August 8, 1997 issue of Science. What they’ve learned could change the way skills training is conducted in educational and industrial settings.

"We wanted to know if the neural representation of a motor task change with time in the absence of practice," Holcomb said.

Using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to monitor changes in cerebral blood flow, the researchers taught study participants a new skill involving rapid, accurate movements of a motorized robotic arm. Imaging brain blood flow is a way of tracking neural activity.

They found that during the critical first five to six hours, the neural links that form the brain’s internal model of the task shift from the prefrontal regions of the cerebral cortex to the premotor, posterior parietal and cerebellar areas.

Even without practice, after five or six hours, the recipe for the task is virtually hardwired into the brain. That’s why an adult who learned to ride a bicycle as a child can climb on a bike 20 years later and pedal away, Holcomb said.

"The representation of a motor task is fragile immediately after learning it, but it becomes progressively more resistant to modification with the passage of time. After about five to six hours, a person’s retention and neural representation of a task is stable," he explained.

"This paper demonstrates that time’s passage causes the brain actually to represent the task using different neural pathways," Holcomb added. "We believe that this shift in neural representation is an important aspect of memory consolidation."

The study reported in Science laid the groundwork for the scientists' current research: using PET imaging to examine what happens in the brain when interference occurs during the window of vulnerability, before motor memory is consolidated.

It was funded in part by the Whittaker Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Naval Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Maryland, Baltimore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Maryland, Baltimore. "Motor Memory: Skills Slip Most Easily In First Hours After Learning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/08/970806145740.htm>.
University Of Maryland, Baltimore. (1997, August 7). Motor Memory: Skills Slip Most Easily In First Hours After Learning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/08/970806145740.htm
University Of Maryland, Baltimore. "Motor Memory: Skills Slip Most Easily In First Hours After Learning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/08/970806145740.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins