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Cognitive and neural foundations of discrete sequence skill: A TMS study

Cognitive and neural foundations of discrete sequence skill: A TMS study

Authors: 
M.F.L. Ruitenberg, W.B. Verwey, D.J.L.G. Schutter & E.L. Abrahamse
Year: 
2014
Journal: 
Neuropsychologia
Abstract: 

Executing discrete movement sequences typically involves a shift with practice from a relatively slow, stimulus-based mode to a fast mode in which performance is based on retrieving and executing entire motor chunks. The dual processor model explains the performance of (skilled) discrete key-press sequences in terms of an interplay between a cognitive processor and a motor system. In the present study, we tested and confirmed the core assumptions of this model at the behavioral level. In addition, we explored the involvement of the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) in discrete sequence skill by applying inhibitory 20 min 1-Hz off-line repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Based on previous work, we predicted pre-SMA involvement in the selection/initiation of motor chunks, and this was confirmed by our results. The pre-SMA was further observed to be more involved in more complex than in simpler sequences, while no evidence was found for pre-SMA involvement in direct stimulus–response translations or associative learning processes. In conclusion, support is provided for the dual processor model, and for pre-SMA involvement in the initiation of motor chunks.

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