Practice makes perfect, but the role of repetitions in skill learning is not yet fully understood. For example, given a similar number of trials on a given task, it is debated whether repeating and non-repeating items are learned by the same neural process. When one is given training with both types of items - does one learn two separate skills, or only one? Here we show, using a mirror reading task, that practice trials with trial-unique words, and practice trials with repeated words, count towards learning to a different degree. There was no interaction between the time-course of learning repeated and unique words even within the same individuals given mixed training. While repeated words were learned faster than unique words, the repetitions-dependent gains diminished with training beyond a small number of repetitions. Moreover, the gains in performance could not be accounted for solely by the number of repetitions, as assumed by power-law models of learning; rather, the passage of time was a critical factor. Finally, our results suggest that although both repeated and new words were learned by both declarative and procedural memory mechanisms, even a single repetition of specific words could lead to the establishment of a selective differential representation in memory. The results are compatible with the notion of a repetition-sensitive process, triggered by specific repeating events. This 'repetition counter' may be a critical trigger for the effective formation of procedural as well as some type of declarative memory.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by funding from the Benoziyo Center and from the Grodetzky Center (to YD).
- Declarative knowledge
- Power function
- Procedural learning
- Repetition priming
- Skill acquisition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience