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Memory. 2012;20(8):907-14. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2012.711837. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

Effect of sleep on gross motor memory.

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School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Sleep has a beneficial effect on consolidation of newly learned fine motor skills. The aim of the current study was to determine whether sleep has a similar beneficial effect on consolidation of gross motor skills. A total of 70 participants were randomly assigned to either a sleep-wake group or a wake-sleep group and were trained on an arm coordinated reaching task as a gross motor skill. Initial training occurred in the evening for the sleep-wake group and in the morning for the Wake-Sleep group. All participants attended two test sessions 12 and 24 hours following the initial training. Gross motor skill performance improved in both groups following a night of sleep but not after a day of wakefulness. These findings may have implications for learning of new gross motor skills in a range of activities from dance to motor rehabilitation.

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