REHEARSAL STRATEGIES DURING MOTOR-SEQUENCE LEARNING IN OLD AGE: EXECUTION VS MOTOR IMAGERY1,2

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Abstract

Summary.

Motor imagery and action-based rehearsal were compared during motor sequence-learning by young adults (M = 25 yr., SD = 3) and aged adults (M = 63 yr., SD = 7). General accuracy of aged adults was lower than that of young adults (F1,28 = 7.37, p = .01) even though working-memory capacity was equivalent in the two groups. Motor imagery and rehearsal by action increased accuracy in both age groups, compared with minimization of opportunity for rehearsal (F1,28 = 30.95, p < .001), but no interaction was found with age group, which suggests that young and aged adults were equally capable of motor imagery and action-based rehearsal. It was assumed that differences in performance between young and aged participants related to the formation of mental representations of sequences and integration of new elements into these representations rather than the capacity for motor imagery or rehearsal by action per se. The current study was exploratory and involved a relatively small sample of 15 participants per age group. Caution must be taken when considering the results.

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