Age-related declines in motor learning are well documented. Visuospatial memory has been proposed as a key factor explaining age-related declines in sensorimotor adaptation, but most studies have not used standardized visuospatial memory tests nor controlled for age-related visuospatial memory declines. The present study explores the relationship between visuospatial memory and motor learning in older adults while also controlling for age and utilizing a standardized visuospatial memory test. Forty-nine nondemented older adults repetitively practiced a functional upper-extremity motor task and were re-assessed one week later. Training data were modeled with mixed-effect exponential decay functions, with parameters representing amount of performance change, rate of improvement, and final performance. Age and visuospatial memory were included as possible covariates for the parameter measuring rate of improvement (τ). After controlling for age, higher visuospatial memory scores were associated with faster rates of skill acquisition and better short-term retention one week later. These associations with visuospatial memory were dependent, however, on the level of initial skill. These findings suggest that the extent of re-learning motor skills in geriatric physical rehabilitation may depend on intact visuospatial memory.
- Motor learning
- Motor skill
- Rey-Osterrieth complex figure test
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology