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Targeted memory reactivation, errors, and sleep-dependent memory consolidation: Implications for off-line motor learning

Abstract
Memory consolidation benefits from sleep and is fundamental for motor learning. However, sleep-dependent consolidation occurs for a range of motor memories, some of which may be associated with successful practice trials and some of which may be associated with unsuccessful practice trials, or errors. Consequently, the aim of this thesis was to investigate whether it is possible to enhance sleep-dependent consolidation rates by constraining the learning environment in order to regulate errors during practice. Chapter 1 reviews literature relevant to this question. Chapter Two presents an experiment in which we investigated whether sleep-dependent consolidation is likely to result in a higher rate of learning when many successful trials occur at the end of practice compared to when many unsuccessful practice trials occur at the end of practice. Results showed that the Successful-trials group displayed significant improvements in performance following a night of sleep, whereas the Unsuccessful-trials group did not. We concluded that sleep resulted in better learning in the successful trials group than the unsuccessful trials group because memories of more successful trials and fewer unsuccessful trials consolidated. A serial-position effect may explain these findings; however, more work is needed. Chapter Three presents a follow-up experiment in which we used the same apparatus and protocol as in Chapter Two. However, we incorporated targeted memory reactivation to promote greater off-line consolidation of successful trials in the successful trials group, and of unsuccessful trials in the unsuccessful trials group. Results showed that both groups displayed significant improvements in performance following a night of sleep. We concluded that targeted memory reactivation may have augmented consolidation of successful trials at the expense of unsuccessful trials, but more work is necessary. The role of dopamine in memory consolidation was discussed. The results of this thesis provide some support for the premise that it is possible to enhance sleep-dependent consolidation rates by constraining the learning environment in order to regulate errors during practice. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed in Chapter Four.
Type
Thesis
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Date
2022
Publisher
The University of Waikato
Rights
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