Explicit information interferes with implicit motor learning of both continuous and discrete movement tasks after stroke

J Neurol Phys Ther. 2006 Jun;30(2):46-57; discussion 58-9. doi: 10.1097/01.npt.0000282566.48050.9b.


A large portion of the rehabilitation experience after stroke relies on implicit learning. However, our understanding of how best to facilitate motor learning after stroke is limited by a paucity of research that has explored the interaction between explicit information and implicit learning across various task domains. Previously we reported that the delivery of explicit instructions disrupted implicit motor learning after stroke that involved the sensorimotor cortical areas or basal ganglia. The purpose of this study was to determine the robustness of these findings by determining whether they could be replicated with 2 motor tasks, one discrete and one continuous, employed by the same group of participants. Ten individuals with stroke in the sensorimotor cortical areas (SMC), 10 with stroke in the basal ganglia (BG), and 10 age-matched healthy controls (HC) participated in this study. Each completed 3 days of practice of both a discrete implicit motor task (the serial reaction time task) and a continuous motor task (the continuous tracking task); all returned on a fourth day for retention tests. By random designation, participants were divided into either the explicit information (EI) or no explicit information (No-EI) groups. Consistent with previous results, we found that the response to explicit information after stroke was uniformly negative regardless of task or lesion location; both stroke groups demonstrated an interference effect of explicit information while the healthy control group did not. Strengthening these findings is the fact that the interference effect of explicit information was not task dependent. This point is particularly important for rehabilitation scientists as they instruct clients during various therapeutic tasks after stroke. Our data suggest that certain forms of explicit information delivered before task practice may not be as useful for learning as discovering the solution to the motor task with practice alone, and this is regardless of the type of task being learned.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / pathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Stroke / pathology
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Stroke / psychology*