Research Topic

Atypical Development of Procedural Memory and Related Functions

About this Research Topic

Procedural memory is based on multiple learning mechanisms which persist from early in life. While most cognitive capacities increase from childhood to adulthood, the dynamics of procedural development is seemingly more complex, with some aspects showing development to adulthood, while others exhibiting a developmental peak in early adolescence. This diverse developmental pattern of procedural functions is thought to be connected to the development of related areas, such as motor organization and cognitive control. Thus, a complex pattern of typical development warrants the investigation of atypical development as well. In the past few years, studying procedural memory and its interaction with other cognitive systems brought a new understanding of how people with developmental disorders learn new skills and create habits.

The potential impairment of procedural functions has been put forward in developmental disorders associated with frontostriatal abnormalities, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific language impairment (SLI). In contrast, procedural functions seem to be intact in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and even enhanced in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). It has been proposed that the development of cognitive and motor control hinders some forms of procedural learning. This inverse relationship invites the question whether delayed or impaired development of top-down functions could be characterized by enhanced procedural functions and vice versa. Beyond possible procedural enhancements, alternative performance patterns and compensatory strategies may also emerge.
Importantly, different modalities in procedural learning seem to show distinct learning paths: for instance, less developmental variability has been shown in auditory learning of linguistic stimuli than learning of visuo-spatial or motor information. However, learning trajectories in different modalities have not been completely characterized in various developmental disorders. Modality-specific investigation of procedural functions are especially important in cases of SLI, developmental dyslexia, or ASD.

In sum, the diverse development of procedural memory across modalities as well as its relationship to other cognitive systems could contribute to the heterogeneity of atypical cognitive functioning developmental disorders. The aim of this Research Topic is to explore this complex picture.

We welcome submissions that address various issues on this topic, including (but not limited to) the following:

• Atypical procedural learning and memory in developmental context, including both impaired and enhanced performance;
• Interaction between cognitive control and procedural function in atypical development, including competition and/or cooperation between systems, and compensatory behavior;
• Consolidation of procedural memories in developmental disorders, including stability and flexibility of memories;
• Changes of procedural memories in course of adaptation, behavioural automatization, and behavioural modifications (e.g., neurofeedback or behavioural therapy);
• How input modalities interact with procedural learning in developmental disorders?
• How input complexity affects the learning of procedural information in developmental disorders?

We encourage to address these questions from the perspectives of statistical learning, sequence learning, implicit learning, motor learning, and habitual behaviour, as well.
We would also like to encourage theoretical pieces that could go beyond the traditional impairment-based approaches.


Keywords: Procedural Memory, Motor Learning, Statistical Learning, Automatization, Atypical Development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Procedural memory is based on multiple learning mechanisms which persist from early in life. While most cognitive capacities increase from childhood to adulthood, the dynamics of procedural development is seemingly more complex, with some aspects showing development to adulthood, while others exhibiting a developmental peak in early adolescence. This diverse developmental pattern of procedural functions is thought to be connected to the development of related areas, such as motor organization and cognitive control. Thus, a complex pattern of typical development warrants the investigation of atypical development as well. In the past few years, studying procedural memory and its interaction with other cognitive systems brought a new understanding of how people with developmental disorders learn new skills and create habits.

The potential impairment of procedural functions has been put forward in developmental disorders associated with frontostriatal abnormalities, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific language impairment (SLI). In contrast, procedural functions seem to be intact in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and even enhanced in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS). It has been proposed that the development of cognitive and motor control hinders some forms of procedural learning. This inverse relationship invites the question whether delayed or impaired development of top-down functions could be characterized by enhanced procedural functions and vice versa. Beyond possible procedural enhancements, alternative performance patterns and compensatory strategies may also emerge.
Importantly, different modalities in procedural learning seem to show distinct learning paths: for instance, less developmental variability has been shown in auditory learning of linguistic stimuli than learning of visuo-spatial or motor information. However, learning trajectories in different modalities have not been completely characterized in various developmental disorders. Modality-specific investigation of procedural functions are especially important in cases of SLI, developmental dyslexia, or ASD.

In sum, the diverse development of procedural memory across modalities as well as its relationship to other cognitive systems could contribute to the heterogeneity of atypical cognitive functioning developmental disorders. The aim of this Research Topic is to explore this complex picture.

We welcome submissions that address various issues on this topic, including (but not limited to) the following:

• Atypical procedural learning and memory in developmental context, including both impaired and enhanced performance;
• Interaction between cognitive control and procedural function in atypical development, including competition and/or cooperation between systems, and compensatory behavior;
• Consolidation of procedural memories in developmental disorders, including stability and flexibility of memories;
• Changes of procedural memories in course of adaptation, behavioural automatization, and behavioural modifications (e.g., neurofeedback or behavioural therapy);
• How input modalities interact with procedural learning in developmental disorders?
• How input complexity affects the learning of procedural information in developmental disorders?

We encourage to address these questions from the perspectives of statistical learning, sequence learning, implicit learning, motor learning, and habitual behaviour, as well.
We would also like to encourage theoretical pieces that could go beyond the traditional impairment-based approaches.


Keywords: Procedural Memory, Motor Learning, Statistical Learning, Automatization, Atypical Development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

26 November 2020 Abstract
26 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

26 November 2020 Abstract
26 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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