Learning of a simple grapho-motor task by young children and adults: Similar acquisition but age-dependent retention
Many new skills are acquired during early childhood. Typical laboratory skill learning tasks are not applicable for developmental studies that involve children younger than 8 years of age. It is not clear whether young children and adults share a basic underlying skill learning mechanism. In the present study, the learning and retention of a simple grapho-motor pattern were studied in three age groups: 5-6, 7-8, and 19-29 years. Each block of the task consists of identical patterns arranged in a spaced writing array. Progression across the block involves on-page movements while producing the pattern, and off-page movements between patterns. The participants practiced the production of the pattern using a digitizing tablet and were tested at 24 h and 2 weeks post-practice. All age groups produced the task blocks more quickly with practice, and the learning rate was inversely related to the initial production time. All groups exhibited additional gains 24 h post-practice that were well-retained 2 weeks later. The accuracy of the participants was maintained throughout the 2-weeks period. These findings suggest that young children and young adults use a similar mechanism when learning the task. Nevertheless, the 6-years-old spent more time off-page during retention testing than when tested at 24 h post-practice, thus supporting the notion that an age advantage may exists in the long-term retention of skills due to planning-dependent aspects.
Julius, M.S. & Adi-Japha, E. (2015)
Learning of a simple grapho-motor task by young children and adults: Similar acquisition but age-dependent retention. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, (MAR), Article number 00225
Last Updated Date : 22/06/2015