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See detailDevelopmental differences in the procedural learning of a perceptual-motor skill
Lejeune, Caroline ULg; Catale, Corinne ULg; Merbah, Sarah ULg et al

Poster (2011, May 27)

It is generally admitted that procedural learning is efficient early in childhood. However, few studies have brought empirical data confirming this assumption, and many questions remain regarding the ... [more ▼]

It is generally admitted that procedural learning is efficient early in childhood. However, few studies have brought empirical data confirming this assumption, and many questions remain regarding the cognitive mechanisms that sustain procedural learning in children. The aim of our study was to investigate whether perceptual-motor procedural learning was present to the same extent in 7-, 10-year-old children and in adults. We also examined the role of executive functions, working memory, general intelligence, and motor ability during the learning process. A total of 76 subjects divided into 3 age-groups were tested. The task included 4 blocks of 3 trials during which each subject had to trace the contour of a triangle with an inverted computer mouse. Analyses show an important difference between groups in the initial phase of the learning process. They also reveal that executive functions intervene during the first learning phase, which might explain the observed age effect. In addition, results show significant but different learning effects for the procedural task: while the improvement was equivalent between 10-year-olds and adults, 7-year-old children showed a greater learning slope than the other groups; despite their slowness during the first blocks, younger children showed an equivalent performance at the end of the learning phase. These results suggest that, if executive processes are important during the first learning steps, they are not a “necessary condition” for motor skill learning to occur. The role of compensatory strategies sustaining learning in younger children is discussed. [less ▲]

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