Do musicians learn a fine sequential hand motor skill differently than non-musicians?

Jagna Sobierajewicz (Corresponding Author), Ryszard Naskręcki, Wojciech Jaśkowski, Rob H.J. Van der Lubbe

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    Do professional musicians learn a fine sequential hand motor skill more efficiently than non-musicians? Is this also the case when they perform motor imagery, which implies that they only mentally simulate these movements? Musicians and non-musicians performed a Go/NoGo discrete sequence production (DSP) task, which allows to separate sequence-specific from a-specific learning effects. In this task five stimuli, to be memorized during a preparation interval, signaled a response sequence. In a practice phase, different response sequences had to be either executed, imagined, or inhibited, which was indicated by different response cues. In a test phase, responses were required to familiar (previously executed, imagined, or inhibited) and unfamiliar sequences. In both phases, response times and response accuracy were measured while the electroencephalogram (EEG) was only registered during the practice phase to compare activity between motor imagery, motor execution, and motor inhibition for both groups. Results in the practice phase revealed that musicians learned the response sequences faster and more accurately than non-musicians although no difference in initiation time was found. EEG analyses revealed similar lateralized activity during learning a motor skill for both groups. Our results from the test phase showed better sequence-a-specific learning effects (i.e., faster response times and increased accuracy) for musicians than for non-musicians. Moreover, we revealed that non-musicians benefit more from physical execution while learning a required motor sequence, whereas sequence-specific learning effects due to learning with motor imagery were very similar for musicians and non-musicians.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number0207449
    Number of pages22
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2018


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