Send to

Choose Destination
Exp Brain Res. 2009 Mar;194(1):143-55. doi: 10.1007/s00221-008-1681-5. Epub 2008 Dec 23.

The serial reaction time task revisited: a study on motor sequence learning with an arm-reaching task.

Author information

SMILabs Without Frontiers, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, CUNY Medical School, Harris Hall H-210, 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY, 10031, USA.


With a series of novel arm-reaching tasks, we have shown that visuomotor sequence learning encompasses the acquisition of the order of sequence elements, and the ability to combine them in a single, skilled behavior. The first component, which is mostly declarative, is reflected by changes in movement onset time (OT); the second, which occurs without subject's awareness, is measured by changes in kinematic variables, including movement time (MT). Key-press-based serial reaction time tasks (SRTT) have been used to investigate sequence learning and results interpreted as indicative of the implicit acquisition of the sequence order. One limitation to SRT studies, however, is that only one measure is used, the response time, the sum of OT and MT: this makes interpretation of which component is learnt difficult and disambiguation of implicit and explicit processes problematic. Here, we used an arm-reaching version of SRTT to propose a novel interpretation of such results. The pattern of response time changes we obtained was similar to the key-press-based tasks. However, there were significant differences between OT and MT, suggesting that both partial learning of the sequence order and skill improvement took place. Further analyses indicated that the learning of the sequence order might not occur without subjects' awareness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center