PSYCH30020 – The Integrated Brain
Assessment 2 – 35%
Part 1: Write an abstract for the experiment you performed in your tutorials, including the group results you generated in class.
Part 2: Review the manuscript attached to this document that is very similar to the experiment you performed. The review should include separate comments to editors and authors.
See the PowerPoint presentation from lab 4 (week 6) for details. The abstract must be less than 300 words and total assignment must be less than 1500 words. Please include word counts for both abstract and total assignment on the cover page of your assignment.
Specifics for Part 2 – The manuscript review:
Assume the manuscript has been submitted to the journal Sleep which has an impact factor of 5.1. Sleep has the highest impact factor of the sleep specialist journals (only the very best sleep related papers get published in it). Sleep has a requirement that references be fewer than 30 in number and that tables are not longer than 10 rows.
You can also assume the study is novel and has never been done before despite significant interest in the area from sleep – motor learning experts. Thus, a well conducted study that is also written up well on this topic would be publishable in Sleep.
Imagine you were reading this as an expert in the motor control/sleep field and had not actually participated in the experiment (so you don’t know the details of what was actually done and how it differs from what is written up).
We all have first-hand experience of the fact that ‘practice makes perfect’ – performance of 23 a given task improves with repetition, and, after a critical amount of training, highly skilled 24 performance levels are attained. From a reductionist point of view, it is reasonable to 25 assume that a gain in performance reflects a change in brain proccessing which is triggered 26 by practice. The exact regions of the brain involved in this training effect are unknown. 27 However, functional MRI studies have demonstrated that changes in the primary motor 28 cortex occur with motor training. 29
Evidence from animal and human studies suggests that sleep plays an important role in the 31 process of memory formation. In humans, sleep has been most consistently implicated in 32 the development of procedural learning (i.e., perceptual and motor skills), specifically in the 33 ongoing process of memory consolidation, following the initial stage of memory acquisition. 34 Consistent with this concept, Walker et. al. have shown that there is a dramatic 35 improvement in the number of correct sequences typed on a finger tapping task after a 36 night of sleep and that the same improvement doesn’t occur over the same time period of 37 being awake (Walker Neuron 2002). Thus, sleep appears to consolidate learning of a motor 38 skill. 39
Interestingly, imagined practice of a motor task can also improve performance, whereas 41 imagining an exhaustive effort can lead to worsened performance due to central fatigue 42 (Decety, Behav Brain Res 1996). Whether the improvement in pefrormance that occurs with 43 imagined practice is also related to sleep is unknown. Imagined practice likely activates the 44 prefrontal cortex, which has reduced activity during sleep, highlighting the likely importance 45 of sleep for learning in this area. 46
The supplementary motor cortex is a region of the brain involved with performing 48 sequences of movements and is therefore likely to be highly active while performing and 49 learning a motor task (Karni, Cog Brain Res 1996). The left and right SMC are known to be 50 highly connected and it is therefore expected that there will be some transfer of learning of 51