Cognitive Fatigue Facilitates Procedural Sequence Learning Philippe Peigneux ULB 2016 05

Borragan, G., Slama, H., Destrebecqz, A., & Peigneux, P. (2016). Cognitive Fatigue Facilitates Procedural Sequence Learning. Front Hum Neurosci, 10, 86. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00086

Enhanced procedural learning has been evidenced in conditions where cognitive control is diminished, including hypnosis, disruption of prefrontal activity and non-optimal time of the day. Another condition depleting the availability of controlled resources is cognitive fatigue (CF). We tested the hypothesis that CF, eventually leading to diminished cognitive control, facilitates procedural sequence learning. In a two-day experiment, 23 young healthy adults were administered a serial reaction time task (SRTT) following the induction of high or low levels of CF, in a counterbalanced order. CF was induced using the Time load Dual-back (TloadDback) paradigm, a dual working memory task that allows tailoring cognitive load levels to the individual's optimal performance capacity. In line with our hypothesis, reaction times (RT) in the SRTT were faster in the high- than in the low-level fatigue condition, and performance improvement was higher for the sequential than the motor components. Altogether, our results suggest a paradoxical, facilitating impact of CF on procedural motor sequence learning. We propose that facilitated learning in the high-level fatigue condition stems from a reduction in the cognitive resources devoted to cognitive control processes that normally oppose automatic procedural acquisition mechanisms.

Sleep and memory consolidation: motor performance and proactive interference effects in sequence learning Philippe Peigneux ULB 2015 09

Borragan, G., Urbain, C., Schmitz, R., Mary, A., & Peigneux, P. (2015). Sleep and memory consolidation: motor performance and proactive interference effects in sequence learning. Brain Cogn, 95, 54-61

That post-training sleep supports the consolidation of sequential motor skills remains debated. Performance improvement and sensitivity to proactive interference are both putative measures of long-term memory consolidation. We tested sleep-dependent memory consolidation for visuo-motor sequence learning using a proactive interference paradigm. Thirty-three young adults were trained on sequence A on Day 1, then had Regular Sleep (RS) or were Sleep Deprived (SD) on the night after learning. After two recovery nights, they were tested on the same sequence A, then had to learn a novel, potentially competing sequence B. We hypothesized that proactive interference effects on sequence B due to the prior learning of sequence A would be higher in the RS condition, considering that proactive interference is an indirect marker of the robustness of sequence A, which should be better consolidated over post-training sleep. Results highlighted sleep-dependent improvement for sequence A, with faster RTs overnight for RS participants only. Moreover, the beneficial impact of sleep was specific to the consolidation of motor but not sequential skills. Proactive interference effects on learning a new material at Day 4 were similar between RS and SD participants. These results suggest that post-training sleep contributes to optimizing motor but not sequential components of performance in visuo-motor sequence learning.

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Mechanisms of conscious and unconscious learning