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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 4/2021

Open Access 02-07-2020 | Original Article

Regular participation in leisure time activities and high cardiovascular fitness improve motor sequence learning in older adults

Auteurs: K. Zwingmann, L. Hübner, W. B. Verwey, J. S. Barnhoorn, B. Godde, C. Voelcker-Rehage

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 4/2021

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Abstract

Introduction

Older adults show higher interindividual performance variability during the learning of new motor sequences than younger adults. It is largely unknown what factors contribute to this variability. This study aimed to, first, characterize age differences in motor sequence learning and, second, examine influencing factors for interindividual performance differences.

Method

30 young adults (age M = 21.89, SD = 2.08, 20 female) and 29 older adults (age M = 69.55, SD = 3.03, 18 female) participated in the study. Motor sequence learning was assessed with a discrete sequence production (DSP) task, requiring key presses to a sequence of visual stimuli. Three DSP practice phases (á 8 blocks × 16 sequences, two six-element sequences) and two transfer blocks (new untrained sequences) were performed. Older participants conducted the Mini-Mental Status Examination and a visuospatial working-memory task. All participants finished a questionnaire on everyday leisure activities and a cardiovascular fitness test.

Results

Performance speed increased with practice in both groups, but young improved more than older adults (significant Group × Time effect for response time, F(1,5) = 4.353, p = 0.004, \(\eta_{p}^{2}\) = 0.071). Accuracy did not change in any age group (non-significant Group × Time effect for error rates, F(1,5) = 2.130, p = 0.091, \(\eta_{p}^{2}\) = 0.036). Older adults revealed lower transfer costs for performance speed (significant Time × Group effect, e.g., simple sequence, F(1,2) = 10.511, p = 0.002, \(\eta_{p}^{2}\) = 0.156). High participation in leisure time activities (β = − 0.58, p = 0.010, R2 = 0.45) and high cardiovascular fitness (β = − 0.49, p = 0.011, R2 = 0.45) predicted successful motor sequence learning in older adults.

Discussion

Results confirmed impaired motor learning in older adults. Younger adults seem to show a better implicit knowledge of the practiced sequences compared to older adults. Regular participation in leisure time activities and cardiovascular fitness seem to prevent age-related decline and to facilitate motor sequence performance and motor sequence learning in older adults.

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Metagegevens
Titel
Regular participation in leisure time activities and high cardiovascular fitness improve motor sequence learning in older adults
Auteurs
K. Zwingmann
L. Hübner
W. B. Verwey
J. S. Barnhoorn
B. Godde
C. Voelcker-Rehage
Publicatiedatum
02-07-2020
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 4/2021
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-020-01351-y