Auditory cueing facilitates immediate short term motor sequence learning but shows no advantage in delayed learning compared to auditory feedback or control


Auditory cues and auditory feedback are present in everyday activities such as music and dance. While the benefits of auditory feedback for motor learning have been explored, the effects may be task specific. The present experiment used the Serial Reaction Time Task (SRTT) to investigate if auditory cues and auditory feedback, provided in the form of congruent tones, lead to the same benefit in implicit sequence learning. Fifty-three neurotypical adults (18-35years; 32 cis-females; 21 cis-males) were randomly assigned to three different groups in which they practiced a visual SRTT: Group 1 was supplemented with auditory cues; group 2 received auditory feedback; and group 3 performed without sound (control). Retention and transfer tests (i.e., the same sequence in the other two sensory conditions), and an explicit awareness test were conducted 48 hours after the practice session. Changes in Total Sequence Time (TST), Total Error (TE), and acquired knowledge of the 10-item sequence order quantified sequence learning and were assessed using a two-way mixed analysis of variance. A group by time interaction on day 1 indicated sequence-specific learning for all groups, however, only the auditory cue group maintained performance improvements during a sequence perturbation block. Analysis of TE suggested no speed-accuracy tradeoffs occurred. On day 2, all groups performed better in the no sound transfer condition compared to the cueing transfer condition, indicating performance was maintained even when sound cues or feedback was removed. Regardless of the sound condition, all groups acquired and retained equivalent implicit knowledge of the motor sequence.

Acknowledgments: National Science and Engineering Research Council