Thirty-six nonmusicians practiced a five-element key-press sequence on a digital piano, repeating the sequence as quickly and accurately as possible during twelve 30-s practice blocks alternating with 30-s pauses. Twelve learners rested for 5 min between Blocks 3 and 4, another 12 learners rested for 5 min between Blocks 9 and 10, and the remaining 12 participants performed 12 blocks without an extended rest interval. All were retested following a night of sleep in six 30-s blocks with a 5-min rest interval between Blocks 3 and 4. Results show that the introduction of extended rest in the early and late stages of practice significantly affected rates of learning within and between sessions. Immediately following the 5-min rest intervals, participants showed large gains in performance, but only following early rest did participants continue to show improvements during training. Participants who rested early in practice also demonstrated the greatest overnight gains. Findings suggest that the temporal placement of rest in practice affected subsequent motor sequence learning and memory consolidation processes.
- Memory consolidation
- Motor skill learning