Essay Example on Procedural Memory Consolidation in the Performance of Brief Keyboard Sequences Journal

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4 2018 Duke R A Davis C M 2006 Procedural Memory Consolidation in the Performance of Brief Keyboard Sequences Journal of Research in Music Education 54 2 111 124 doi 10 2307 4101434 Authors Robert A Duke and Carla M Davis developed a procedure to test the procedural memory consolidation in the performance of simple keyboard sequences Their study was developed based on previous research done in similar memory exercises by other researchers During the consolidation process skills continue to advance for up to six waking hours after the initial physical practice Sleep has shown to be a factor in retaining information Research has proven that learned procedural skills are enhanced by sleep based memory consolidation It was also noted in the research that the different sleep cycles greatly effects consolidation based enhancement More importantly the night of sleep directly following the initial practice helps establish procedural memories Stickgold et al 2000 A nap as long as it includes REM sleep can also be beneficial in memory enhancement Mednick et al 2002 Mednick et al 2003 As shown with testing of rat as well as human subjects the formation of procedural memories for new skills is interrupted with the use of electro conclusive stimulation transcranial magnetic stimulation and the cortical injection of protein synthesis inhibitors Memory is degraded when these previous items were introduced within 6 hours of the initial practice but not an issue when introduced after a normal sleep cycle Graves et al 2001 Duke and Davis made sure all subjects were clean of any items including drugs alcohol and caffeine at least twelve hours before the study 



During their research the authors also pointed out the effect of two similar skills being learned during the same practice session The two newly learned skills would interfere with each other especially after a night of sleep Brashers Krug et al 1996 There were 49 participants in this study consisting of right handed non music majors with limited musical instruction and activities Two finger tapping sequences were used approximately half of the subjects learned one sequence first 2 5 3 4 2 and half learned the other sequence first 4 3 5 2 4 The numbers in the sequence were assigned to correspond with those learned on a piano with one being the thumb and so forth During testing subjects were alone in a small room with a keyboard Subjects wore noise canceling headphones and the sound on the keyboard was off Students were instructed to repeat the sequences as quickly and accurately as they could during a 30 second practice block There was a 12 inch computer screen that listed the finger numbers with circles beneath that illuminated when a key was pressed Training and retest sessions were divided into 30 second blocks of practice followed by 30 seconds of rest Subjects were asked to report hours slept and rate alertness at the beginning of each session Sessions were separated by 24 hours The dependent measure selected was number of correct key presses per 30 second block The mean number of correct key presses per block from the final three training blocks was compared to the mean number of correct key presses per block for the three retest blocks These were compared using paired t tests Paired t test is an accurate method for comparing these results due to the fact that each subject was measured twice Subjects were divided into five groups based on the sequences they were trained and retested on as well as the interval between training and retesting 



The results for each group were displayed using bar graphs that showed correct key presses per block for training compared to retest Results were reported using mean values listing standard error with a p 0 05 indicating statistical significance The authors found no relationship between correct key presses per block and amount of sleep or sleepiness between improvements at retest and amount of sleep preceding night or between sleepiness before training and improvement Results were consistent with other research that indicated sleep based consolidation of procedural skills results in enhanced performance No results demonstrated that learning a new skill prior to the consolidation of a previously learned new skill inhibited the consolidation of the previously learned new skills despite other research showing this effect Walker et al 2003 Results showed that learning the second sequence on day two immediately after retesting on the sequence learned on day one inhibited the second night of sleep based enhancement These results were not consistent with results found in Walker et al The authors hypothesized these inconsistencies may have been due to the fact that subjects exerted more physical effort in their study but further investigation is required Between individuals performance changes between sleep was highly variable 



The authors attribute this to possibly being due differences in time spent in Stage 2 NREM sleep This study did not investigate sleep stages The authors conclude with discussing the need for studies investigating the effect of auditory learning on memory formation and studies that include the learning of more complex skills While the results of this small study are not intended to change practice methods they do demonstrate the complexities of the human mind and how learning and memory can be affected by numerous variables This research is just another step forward in the continuing evolution of how to help musicians be more efficient while delivering desired results during practice routines



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