Brashers-Krug T, Shadmehr R, Bizzi E (1996) Consolidation in human motor memory. Nature, 382:252-255.
Abstract We present psychophysical evidence that learning a motor skill sets in motion neural processes that continue to evolve after practice has ended, a phenomenon known as consolidation. The consolidation of a motor skill was disrupted when subjects learned a second motor task immediately after the first skill was learned, but not if four hours elapsed between the first and second learning sessions. Motor skill consolidated gradually over this four-hour period. Previous studies in humans and other primates have found this time-dependent disruption of consolidation only in explicit memory tasks, which rely on brain structures in the medial temporal lobe (MTL). Our results provide the first indication that motor memories, which do not depend on the MTL, can be transformed by a similar process of consolidation. By extending the phenomenon of consolidation to motor memory, our results indicate that distinct neural systems share similar characteristics when encoding and storing new information.