Dissipation of reactive inhibition is sufficient to explain post-rest improvements in motor sequence learning


The prevailing hypothesis for observed post-rest motor reaction time improvements is offline consolidation. In the present study, we present evidence for an alternate account involving the accrual and dissipation of reactive inhibition. Four groups of participants (N = 159) performed a finger-tapping task involving either massed (30 s per trial) or spaced (10 s per trial) training, and with one of two break intervals between each trial: 10 s or 30 s. After 360 s of training in each group, there was a 300 s rest period followed by a final test on the same task. The results show that the smaller the ratio of break time to on-task trial time during training, the larger the improvement in reaction time after the rest period. Those results are fully consistent with a model that assumes no facilitating offline consolidation, but rather learning that is concurrent with performance and reactive inhibition that builds during performance and dissipates during breaks.

NPJ: Science of Learning
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Mohan Gupta
Psychology PhD Student

My research interests include the what are the best ways to learn, why those are the best ways, and can I build computational models to predict what people will learn in both motor and declarative learning .