Motor learning can be defined as a process that leads to relatively permanent changes in motor behavior through repeated interactions with the environment. Different strategies can be adopted to achieve motor learning: movements can be overtly practiced leading to an amelioration of motor performance; alternatively, covert strategies can promote neuroplastic changes in the motor system even in the absence of real movement execution. However, whether a training regularly alternating action observation and execution may surpass the pure motor practice and observational learning remains to be established. To address this issue, we enrolled 54 subjects requiring them to learn tying nautical knots via one out of three types of training with the scope to investigate which element mostly contributes to motor learning. We evaluated the overall improvement of each group, along with the predictive role that neuropsychological indexes exert on each treatment outcome. The AOT group exhibited the highest performance improvement, indicating that the regular alternation between observation and execution biases participants toward a better performance. The reiteration of this sequence provides an incremental, adjunct value that super-adds onto the efficacy of motor practice or observational learning in isolation. These findings extend the use of the AOT from clinical and rehabilitative contexts to daily routines requiring the learning and perfectioning of new motor skills such as sports training, music, and occupational activities requiring fine motor control.
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DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2022.793849
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