The role of working memory capacity in implicit and explicit sequence learning of children: Differentiating movement speed and accuracy
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Number of pages
SourceHuman Movement Science, 69, (2020), article 102556
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
Human Movement Science
SubjectAll institutes and research themes of the Radboud University Medical Center; Learning and Plasticity; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
This study investigated the role of working memory capacity on implicit and explicit motor sequence learning in young children. To this end, a task was utilized that required a gross motor response (flexing the elbow) and that could differentiate between movement speed (i.e., reaction time and movement time) and movement accuracy. Children aged 7-9 years practiced a serial reaction time task that involved the production of a fixed sequence of elbow flexions of prescribed magnitude across two consecutive days. Children in the explicit group were informed about the presence of the sequence and were shown this sequence, while children in the implicit group were not made aware of the sequence. Additionally, children's verbal and visuospatial working memory capacity was assessed. Results of day 1 regarding movement speed revealed no evidence of sequence learning for either group, but movement accuracy results suggested that sequence learning occurred for the implicit group. For both groups, only improvements in movement accuracy were consolidated on day 2, indicating both general and sequence specific learning. Working memory capacity did not correlate with learning in either of the groups. Children in the explicit group accumulated more sequence knowledge compared to children in the implicit group, but this knowledge did not translate to more or better sequence learning. The minimal differences found between the implicit and explicit condition and the absence of a role for working memory capacity add to the increasing evidence that the observed differences between implicit and explicit sequence learning in adults may be less distinct in children.
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