The best time to acquire new skills: Age-related differences in implicit sequence learning across the human lifespan

Karolina Janacsek, J. Fiser, Dezso Nemeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Implicit skill learning underlies obtaining not only motor, but also cognitive and social skills through the life of an individual. Yet, the ontogenetic changes in humans' implicit learning abilities have not yet been characterized, and, thus, their role in acquiring new knowledge efficiently during development is unknown. We investigated such learning across the lifespan, between 4 and 85years of age with an implicit probabilistic sequence learning task, and we found that the difference in implicitly learning high- vs. low-probability events - measured by raw reaction time (RT) - exhibited a rapid decrement around age of 12. Accuracy and z-transformed data showed partially different developmental curves, suggesting a re-evaluation of analysis methods in developmental research. The decrement in raw RT differences supports an extension of the traditional two-stage lifespan skill acquisition model: in addition to a decline above the age 60 reported in earlier studies, sensitivity to raw probabilities and, therefore, acquiring new skills is significantly more effective until early adolescence than later in life. These results suggest that due to developmental changes in early adolescence, implicit skill learning processes undergo a marked shift in weighting raw probabilities vs. more complex interpretations of events, which, with appropriate timing, prove to be an optimal strategy for human skill learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-505
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

Fingerprint

Learning
Reaction Time
Aptitude
Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this

The best time to acquire new skills : Age-related differences in implicit sequence learning across the human lifespan. / Janacsek, Karolina; Fiser, J.; Nemeth, Dezso.

In: Developmental Science, Vol. 15, No. 4, 07.2012, p. 496-505.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{c5c1907871834e8482d41702ef5b81dc,
title = "The best time to acquire new skills: Age-related differences in implicit sequence learning across the human lifespan",
abstract = "Implicit skill learning underlies obtaining not only motor, but also cognitive and social skills through the life of an individual. Yet, the ontogenetic changes in humans' implicit learning abilities have not yet been characterized, and, thus, their role in acquiring new knowledge efficiently during development is unknown. We investigated such learning across the lifespan, between 4 and 85years of age with an implicit probabilistic sequence learning task, and we found that the difference in implicitly learning high- vs. low-probability events - measured by raw reaction time (RT) - exhibited a rapid decrement around age of 12. Accuracy and z-transformed data showed partially different developmental curves, suggesting a re-evaluation of analysis methods in developmental research. The decrement in raw RT differences supports an extension of the traditional two-stage lifespan skill acquisition model: in addition to a decline above the age 60 reported in earlier studies, sensitivity to raw probabilities and, therefore, acquiring new skills is significantly more effective until early adolescence than later in life. These results suggest that due to developmental changes in early adolescence, implicit skill learning processes undergo a marked shift in weighting raw probabilities vs. more complex interpretations of events, which, with appropriate timing, prove to be an optimal strategy for human skill learning.",
author = "Karolina Janacsek and J. Fiser and Dezso Nemeth",
year = "2012",
month = "7",
doi = "10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01150.x",
language = "English",
volume = "15",
pages = "496--505",
journal = "Developmental Science",
issn = "1363-755X",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The best time to acquire new skills

T2 - Age-related differences in implicit sequence learning across the human lifespan

AU - Janacsek, Karolina

AU - Fiser, J.

AU - Nemeth, Dezso

PY - 2012/7

Y1 - 2012/7

N2 - Implicit skill learning underlies obtaining not only motor, but also cognitive and social skills through the life of an individual. Yet, the ontogenetic changes in humans' implicit learning abilities have not yet been characterized, and, thus, their role in acquiring new knowledge efficiently during development is unknown. We investigated such learning across the lifespan, between 4 and 85years of age with an implicit probabilistic sequence learning task, and we found that the difference in implicitly learning high- vs. low-probability events - measured by raw reaction time (RT) - exhibited a rapid decrement around age of 12. Accuracy and z-transformed data showed partially different developmental curves, suggesting a re-evaluation of analysis methods in developmental research. The decrement in raw RT differences supports an extension of the traditional two-stage lifespan skill acquisition model: in addition to a decline above the age 60 reported in earlier studies, sensitivity to raw probabilities and, therefore, acquiring new skills is significantly more effective until early adolescence than later in life. These results suggest that due to developmental changes in early adolescence, implicit skill learning processes undergo a marked shift in weighting raw probabilities vs. more complex interpretations of events, which, with appropriate timing, prove to be an optimal strategy for human skill learning.

AB - Implicit skill learning underlies obtaining not only motor, but also cognitive and social skills through the life of an individual. Yet, the ontogenetic changes in humans' implicit learning abilities have not yet been characterized, and, thus, their role in acquiring new knowledge efficiently during development is unknown. We investigated such learning across the lifespan, between 4 and 85years of age with an implicit probabilistic sequence learning task, and we found that the difference in implicitly learning high- vs. low-probability events - measured by raw reaction time (RT) - exhibited a rapid decrement around age of 12. Accuracy and z-transformed data showed partially different developmental curves, suggesting a re-evaluation of analysis methods in developmental research. The decrement in raw RT differences supports an extension of the traditional two-stage lifespan skill acquisition model: in addition to a decline above the age 60 reported in earlier studies, sensitivity to raw probabilities and, therefore, acquiring new skills is significantly more effective until early adolescence than later in life. These results suggest that due to developmental changes in early adolescence, implicit skill learning processes undergo a marked shift in weighting raw probabilities vs. more complex interpretations of events, which, with appropriate timing, prove to be an optimal strategy for human skill learning.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84862651034&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84862651034&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01150.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.01150.x

M3 - Article

C2 - 22709399

AN - SCOPUS:84862651034

VL - 15

SP - 496

EP - 505

JO - Developmental Science

JF - Developmental Science

SN - 1363-755X

IS - 4

ER -