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The best time to acquire new skills: age-related differences in implicit sequence learning across the human lifespan

The best time to acquire new skills: age-related differences in implicit sequence learning across the human lifespan

Janacsek, Karolina, Fiser, József and Nemeth, Dezso (2012) The best time to acquire new skills: age-related differences in implicit sequence learning across the human lifespan. Developmental Science, 15 (4). pp. 496-505. ISSN 1363-755X (Print), 1467-7687 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01150.x)

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Abstract

Implicit skill learning underlies obtaining not only motor, but also cognitive and social skills through the life of an individual. Yet, the ontogenetic changes in humans’ implicit learning abilities have not yet been characterized, and, thus, their role in acquiring new knowledge efficiently during development is unknown. We investigated such learning across the life span, between 4-85 years of age with an implicit probabilistic sequence learning task, and we found that the difference in implicitly learning high vs. low probability events - measured by raw reaction time (RT) - exhibited a rapid decrement around age of 12. Accuracy and z-transformed data showed partially different developmental curves suggesting a re-evaluation of analysis methods in developmental research. The decrement in raw RT differences supports an extension of the traditional 2-stage lifespan skill acquisition model: in addition to a decline above the age 60 reported in earlier studies, sensitivity to raw probabilities and, therefore, acquiring new skills is significantly more effective until early adolescence than later in life. These results suggest that due to developmental changes in early adolescence, implicit skill learning processes undergo a marked shift in weighting raw probabilities vs. more complex interpretations of events, which, with appropriate timing, prove to be an optimal strategy for human skill learning.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: skill learning, implicit sequence learning, automaticity, Alternating Serial Reaction Time Task (ASRT), development, aging, critical period
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Department of Psychology, Social Work & Counselling
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2020 10:40
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/25690

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