Skill learning in mirror reading: How repetition determines acquisition

N. Ofen-Noy, Y. Dudai, A. Karni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-521
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding 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


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