Previous experimental and theoretical studies have suggested that two separate neural networks contribute to visuomotor learning of spatial sequences, one to the accuracy of performance and the other to the speed of performance (Nakahara et al. in J Cogn Neurosci 13:626-647, 2001). This study examined the influence of explicit knowledge of stimulus configuration (workspace) in visuomotor sequence learning. Twenty-eight right-handed subjects learned the sequences of button presses by trial and error (Hikosaka et al. in J Neurophysiol 76:617-621, 1996) in the course of two sessions. In the first session, both the number of completion failures (accuracy measure) and the performance time to complete a sequence (speed measure) decreased. In the second session, the workspace was rotated without notifying the subjects. About half the subjects remained unaware of the workspace rotation, and no transfer of learning occurred (i.e., neither accuracy nor speed of performance was preserved in the second session). The remaining subjects spontaneously noticed the rotation and they were able to use this knowledge to perform the task with less completion failures in the second session. However, the knowledge of workspace rotation did not decrease the performance time in the second session. The lack of influence of explicit knowledge on the speed of performance is consistent with the two-loop model of visuomotor sequence learning (Nakahara et al. in J Cogn Neurosci 13:626-647, 2001).
ASJC Scopus subject areas