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The effects of practice distribution upon the regional oscillatory activity in visuomotor learning.

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Studer, Bettina 
Koeneke, Susan 
Blum, Julia 
Jäncke, Lutz 


BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a massed compared to a distributed practice upon visuomotor learning as well as upon the regional oscillatory activity in the sensorimotor cortex. METHODS: A continuous visuomotor tracking task was used to assess visuomotor learning; the underlying neuronal correlates were measured by means of EEG. The massed practice group completed a continuous training of 60 minutes, while the distributed practice group completed four 15 minutes practice blocks separated by rest intervals. RESULTS: While the massed and the distributed practice group did not differ in performance, effects of practice distribution were evident in the regional oscillatory activity. In the course of practice, the massed training group showed a higher task-related theta power and a strong task-related power decrease in the upper alpha frequency over the sensorimotor cortex compared to the distributed practice group. CONCLUSIONS: These differences in the regional oscillatory activity indicate a higher cognitive effort and higher attention demands in the massed practice group. The results of this study support the hypothesis, that a distributed practice is superior to a massed practice in visuomotor learning.


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Adult, Alpha Rhythm, Electroencephalography, Female, Humans, Learning, Motor Cortex, Photic Stimulation, Psychomotor Performance, Theta Rhythm, Young Adult

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Behav Brain Funct

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC