How Sleep Enhances Motor Learning – a Review

 Article (PDF) 
Klaus Blischke, Daniel Erlacher

There is a fast growing body of research in the area of neuropsychology and the behavioral sciences addressing consolidation and optimization of internal representation in the course of motor learning. Only recently it has been shown that, after initial learning, elapse of time preserves, but sleep enhances performance in procedural motor skills. In this paper, we review the most recent findings on the relation of specific sleep stages, associated brain activity, and sleep-related improvements in performance. Here, different activity states seem to correspond to different learning stages. It is argued that certain sleep associated processes could enhance local neural connectivity and thereby re-structure (motor) memory representations in a more proficient way as compared to their state at the end of (initial) skill acquisition on the day before. We will also discuss the impact of expertise level on sleep associated processes of memory optimization. We will conclude in highlighting some promising methodological approaches in the analysis of motor learning and REM sleep intensity.
Key words
sleep, sleep stages, motor skills

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