Skill Learning and Procedural Memory

Music performance engages a constellation of perceptual, cognitive, and motor processes. The goal of musicians’ practice is to coordinate these processes in the context of artistic expression, combining the many individual elements of motor control to create fluid sequences of movements that, over time, become increasingly integrated into larger structures: musical gestures, phrases, periods. Of course, motor learning has long been a topic of interest in psychology and kinesiology and more recently in neuroscience. The results of research in these discplines, though often obtained by observing skills more limited in complexity than those typically involved in music performance, are nevertheless germane to the understanding of motor behavior in music.

Our group studies the processes of motor skill learning in the context of music performance. We're particularly interested in how the brain encodes, modifies, and retrieves procedural memories in music and in related skills. Most recently we have focused on the behavioral effects of sleep and interference in the processes of memory consolidation under varying learning conditions.



CML Lab Members

Doctoral Students

Lab Alumni

Other Collaborators

Recent Papers

Cash, C. D., Allen, S. E., Simmons, A. L., & Duke, R. A. (2014). Effects of model performances on skill acquisition and overnight memory consolidation. Journal of Research in Music Education, 62, 89-99. [pdf]

Allen, S. E., & Duke, R. A. (2013). The effects of limited, restricted music practice on overnight memory enhancement. Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, 32(1), 67-73. [pdf]

Atkins, R. L., & Duke, R. A. (2013). Changes in tone production as a function of focus of attention in untrained singers. International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, 4(2), 28-36. [pdf]

Allen, S. E. (2012). Memory stabilization and enhancement following music practice. Psychology of Music, 41, 794-803. [pdf]

Simmons, A. L. (2011). Distributed practice and procedural memory consolidation in musicians' skill learning. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59, 1-12. [pdf]

Duke, R. A., Cash, C. D., and Allen, S. E. (2011). Focus of attention affects performance of motor skills in music. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59, 44-55. [pdf]

Duke, R. A., Allen, S. E., Cash, C. D., Simmons, A. E. (2009). Effects of early and late rest breaks during training on overnight memory consolidation of a keybaord melody. The Neurosciences and Music III: Disorders and Plasticity: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169, 169-172. [pdf]

Duke, R. A., Simmons, A. L., & Cash, C. D. (2009). It's not how much; it's how. Characteristics of practice behavior and retention of performance skills. Journal of Research in Music Education, 56, 310-321. [pdf]

Cash, C. D. (2009). Effects of early and late rest intervals on performance and consolidation of a keyboard sequence. Journal of Research in Music Education, 57, 252-266. [pdf]

Duke, R. A., & Davis, C. M. (2006). Procedural memory consolidation in the performance of brief keyboard sequences. Journal of Research in Music Education, 54, 111-124. [pdf]

Simmons, A. L., & Duke, R. A. (2006). Effects of sleep on performance of a keyboard melody. Journal of Research in Music Education, 54, 257-269. [pdf]