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Implicit motor learning in patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease:

Differences in learning abilities?

Article Review

Implicit Motor Learning in Patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease:

Differences in Learning Abilities?

Article Summary

Experimental studies show intact implicit motor learning in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) but the results for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are inconclusive. Errors and time measures may show the involvement of different processes, e.g., spatial and motor components, which could be differently affected in AD and PD. The ability to learn and produce sequential motor actions such as involved in shifting gears in a car, serving a ball in tennis, or typing on a computer, is an amazing capacity of humans, but patients with brain damage and degenerative diseases this ability can diminish. Experimental studies have shown implicit processes are also relevant in motor skill learning, they consequently yield little or no information about a patient’s ability to re-learn motor skills. Implicit learning is also important to rehabilitation because explicit learning is not always appropriate for certain groups of patients. Patients with diseases such as Alzheimer’s show diminished explicit learning, but may profit from implicit learning.

The learning of motor skills is divided into four different groups with changes in a number of distinct processes. The first group/process is the strategic process of learning to select new or more effective environmental goals (picking up a class of water). The second group/process is a perceptual-motor integration process that is directed at learning new relationships between environmental stimuli and motor response (playing a video game which requires hand and eye coordination). The third group/process is a sequencing process that is directed at learning the order of the sub-movements of an act (the sequencing movements of a dance routine). The fourth...