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July 13, 2010

Variable Practice for Motor Skills is Better Than Constant Practice

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Variable practice leads to better retention than constant practice. Variable practice structure is one in which a motor task can be randomly interleaved with trials of other motor tasks.

Instead of just shooting free throws, mix in some dribbling drills or three point shots and layup practice.


These results are the first, to the best of our knowledge, to demonstrate that motor-memory consolidation engages distinct neural substrates that differ depending on practice structure. Practice structures that are more cognitively challenging (that is, variable) may rely on higher-order motor areas such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for motor-memory consolidation, whereas less cognitively challenging constant practice structures may depend more heavily on primary motor cortex to mediate motor-memory consolidation. These results deepen our understanding of motor-memory organization and provide new insights into the mechanisms supporting consolidation of motor skills
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11 pages of supplemental information


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