Sleep has been shown to benefit memory consolidation for certain motor skills, but it remains unclear if this relationship exists for motor skills with direct rehabilitation applications. We aimed to determine the neurobehavioral relationship between finger-tracking skill development and sleep following skill training in young, healthy subjects. Forty subjects received tracking training in the morning (n = 20) or the evening (n = 20). Measures of tracking skill and cortical excitability were collected before and after training. Following training, tracking skill and measures of cortical excitability were assessed at two additional follow-up visits (12 and 24 h post-training) for each subject following an episode of sleep or waking activity. Two-way repeated-measures ANOVAs with Bonferroni-adjusted post hoc tests were conducted for tracking accuracy and measures of cortical excitability. Skill performance improved after training and continued to develop offline during the first post-training interval (12 h). This development was not further enhanced by sleep during this interval. Level of skill improvement was maintained for at least one day in both training groups. Cortical excitability was reduced following training and was related to level of skill performance at follow-up assessment. These data suggest offline memory consolidation of a continuous, visuospatial, finger-tracking skill is not dependent on sleep. These findings are in agreement with recent literature, indicating characteristics of a motor skill may be sensitive to the beneficial effect of sleep on post-training information processing.
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Acknowledgments This publication was made possible by support from the National Center for Research Resources’ (NCRR) grant M01 RR00400, a component of the National Institutes of Health. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIH or NCRR. This study was also supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota Graduate School (M.B.).
- Memory consolidation
- Motor learning
- Primary motor cortex
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation