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J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;39(2):287-300. doi: 10.3233/JAD-130887.

The benefits of errorless learning for serial reaction time performance in Alzheimer's disease.

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Neuropsychology Unit, Department of Cognitive Science, University of Liège, Belgium.
Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal and Centre de Recherche, Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Memory Clinic, Department of Neurology, CHU Liège, Belgium.
Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal and Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada.


Identifying the conditions favoring new procedural skill learning in Alzheimer's disease (AD) could be important for patients' autonomy. It has been suggested that error elimination is beneficial during skill learning, but no study has explored the advantage of this method in sequential learning situations. In this study, we examined the acquisition of a 6-element perceptual-motor sequence by AD patients and healthy older adults (control group). We compared the impact of two preliminary sequence learning conditions (Errorless versus Errorful) on Serial Reaction Time performance at two different points in the learning process. A significant difference in reaction times for the learned sequence and a new sequence was observed in both conditions in healthy older participants; in AD patients, the difference was significant only in the errorless condition. The learning effect was greater in the errorless than the errorful condition in both groups. However, while the errorless advantage was found at two different times in the learning process in the AD group, in the control group this advantage was observed only at the halfway point. These results support the hypothesis that errorless learning allows for faster automation of a procedure than errorful learning in both AD and healthy older subjects.


Alzheimer's disease; perceptual motor performance; reaction time; rehabilitation; serial learning

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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