Purpose: It remains unclear how the brain best recovers from neurologic injury and how
to optimally focus rehabilitation approaches to maximize this recovery. Recent research
has indicated that sleep may augment this recovery. Sleep has been shown to benefit
memory consolidation for certain motor skills, but it remains unclear if this relationship
exists for explicit, continuous, goal-directed motor skills with rehabilitation applications.
We aimed to determine the neurobehavioral relationship between finger-tracking skill
development and sleep following skill training in young, healthy subjects. Methods:
Forty subjects were recruited to receive motor skill training in the morning (n=20) or the
evening (n=20). Measures of skill and cortical excitability were collected before and after
training. Following training, each group had a post-training interval consisting of waking
activity or an interval containing sleep. After this twelve-hour interval, skill performance
and cortical excitability were reassessed. Subjects underwent another twelve-hour
interval containing either waking activity or a sleep episode and came back for a second
assessment, twenty-four hours after training. A subset of subjects (n=10) underwent the
same procedures except the training period involved simple, repeated movement of the
finger. Results: Skill performance improved after training and then continued to improve
offline during the first post-training interval. Improvement was not enhanced by sleep
during this interval. Cortical excitability was not substantially altered by training but was
related to level of skill performance at follow-up assessment. Sleep quality was also
found to be related to level of skill at follow-up assessments. The skilled training period
did not lead to significantly improved performance compared to simple movement
activity. Discussion: These data suggest that sleep is not required for offline memory enhancement for a continuous, visuospatial finger-tracking skill. These findings are in
agreement with recent literature indicating the type of motor skill trained may determine
the beneficial effect of sleep on post-training information processing. These results,
combined with related studies in patient populations, provide a foundation to evaluate the
relationship between sleep, changes in neural activity, and the time course of continuous
visuospatial motor skill learning in individuals following neurologic insult.
UNiversity of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2010. Major: Rehabilitation Science. Advisor: Dr Teresa Jacobson Kimberley, PT PhD. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 272 pages, appendices A-MM
Borich, Michael Robert.
Enhancement of learning: Does sleep benefit motor skill memory consolidation?.
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