adsense code

Monday, November 09, 2009

Daytime Naps Promote Skilled-movement Learning

Whether you are learning to play the piano or learning to throw a football to a fast-breaking receiver, the necessary muscle movements have to be memorized. Converting the memory of movements into long-lasting form takes several hours or more for the brain to "consolidate" the learned movements. This process can be disrupted by trying to learn a different movement during this vulnerable period. For example, consolidation of the memory for a few chords on the piano can be disrupted by trying to learn finger movements on a computer keyboard during this consolidation period.

Another feature of motor learning is that delayed gains in skill performance can occur after a latent period of several hours after an effective learning experience. This delayed performance gain depends on the first post-training night's sleep (I have explained the role of sleep on other kinds of memory in my book on improving memory.

Now comes a study that shows that daytime naps condense the time course of motor- memory consolidation. In the experiment, subjects learned a five-element finger-to-thumb opposition sequence with their non-dominant hand. Then the experimenters tested the effect of a post-training nap. Compared to no-nap controls, a 90-minute daytime nap immediately after training markedly reduced the susceptibility to post-training interference effects and produced a much earlier expression of delayed gains within 8 hours post training. Thus, both memory-enhancing effects were produced by the nap.

Would a shorter nap produce the same effect? We don't know. It wasn't tested. Another untested possibility is that the daytime nap might enhance the memory consolidation that is normally produced by a night's sleep after a motor learning experience, especially if the task is rehearsed that same day after the nap.


Korman, M. et al. 2009. Daytime sleep condenses the time course of motor memory consolidation. Nature Neuroscience. 10 (9): 1206-1213.


  1. Anonymous1:32 AM

    Wonderful article,thanks for putting this together! "This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!"
    speech writing

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

  4. Anonymous5:34 PM

    It is extremely interesting for me to read that article. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

  5. Sleep research has shown that people are really biphasic sleepers. Does that mean that people around the Mediterranean who do about half their sleep during the afternoon are more productive learners? lol I know there is lots of evidence that a lot of famous thinkers advocated the afternoon nap!

  6. Thanks. I reading your books now.


  7. Extremely useful and informative article. I wish i can do all of that in a short period of time. But for sure doing those will produce results. I will try to spread your words through my blog and link it back to you. Thanks a lot for those tips.

    Dissertation help

  8. This is extremely good info!!! Especially since you guys are offering it for free!! Very good listing. Everything is true. Thanx.Dissertation Help|Custom Dissertation


Please contribute your ideas. This blog is all about making learning easier for everyone.