The primary objective of the present experiment was to examine the influence of recent practice in a random and blocked format for future motor learning. First, individuals practiced three unique discrete sequence production tasks in either a blocked or random schedule. One day later, all individuals practiced a new motor sequence not previously practiced. On day three, mean total time for the test performance of the original three motor sequences was lower for individuals that practiced in a random format. This emerged as a significant reduction in mean total time from the completion of practice and the test trials implicating offline consolidation as a key contributor to the random practice performance advantage. A novel finding from the present work was that the acquisition of the novel discrete sequence production task practiced on Day 2 was better for individuals that had prior random rather than blocked practice experience. This benefit was robust appearing early during acquisition as significantly lower mean total time. This benefit from random practice experience remained during the delayed test trials administered on Day 3 for the novel motor sequence.
Keywords: Concatenation; Consolidation; Contextual interference; Motor learning; Sequence learning.
Published by Elsevier B.V.