Multiple shifts in the representation of a motor sequence during the acquisition of skilled performance

Maria Korman, Naftali Raz, Tamar Flash, Avi Karni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

313 Scopus citations


When do learning-related changes in performance occur? Here we show that the knowledge of a sequence of movements evolves through several distinctive phases that depend on two critical factors: the amount of practice as well as the passage of time. Our results show the following. (i) Within a given session, large performance gains constituted a signature for motor novelty. Such gains occurred only for newly introduced conditions irrespective of the absolute level of performance. (ii) A single training session resulted in both immediate but also time-dependent, latent learning hours after the termination of practice. Time in sleep determined the time of expression of these delayed gains. Moreover, the delayed gains were sequence-specific, indicating a qualitative change in the representation of the task within 24 h posttraining. (iii) Prolonged training resulted in additional between-session gains that, unlike the effects of a single training session, were confined to the trained hand. Thus, the effects of multisession training were qualitatively different than the immediate and time-dependent effects of a single session. Altogether, our results indicate multiple time-dependent shifts in the representation of motor experience during the acquisition of skilled performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12492-12497
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


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