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Article #47735
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Du Y, Valentini NC, Kim MJ, Whitall J, Clark JE (2017) Children and adults both learn motor sequences quickly, but do so differently. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:158    
Both children and adults can learn motor sequences quickly in one learning session, yet little is known about potential age-related processes that underlie this fast sequence acquisition. Here, we examined the progressive performance changes in a one-session modified serial reaction time task in 6- and 10-year-old children and adults. We found that rapid sequence learning, as reflected by reaction time (RT), was comparable between groups. The learning was expressed through two behavioral processes: online progressive changes in RT while the task was performed in a continuous manner and offline changes in RT that emerged following a short rest. These offline and online RT changes were age-related; learning in 6-year-olds was primarily reflected through the offline process. In contrast, learning in adults was reflected through the online process; and both online and offline processes occurred concurrently in 10-year-olds. Our results suggest that early rapid sequence learning has a developmental profile. Although the unifying mechanism underlying these two age-related processes is unclear, we discuss possible explanations that need to be systematically elucidated in future studies