Implicit learning: a demonstration and a novel SRT paradigm

Fayme Yeates, F. W. Jones, A. J. Wills, M. R. F. Aitken, I. P. L. McLaren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence for human learning without awareness of what is learned
has been sought in serial reaction time (SRT) tasks in which,
unknown to participants, the locations of stimuli follow a particular rule or sequence (Willingham, Nissen & Bullemer, 1989). A number of criticisms have been levelled at such tasks, including a lack of adequate control for sequential effects and a discrepancy in sensitivity between measures of implicit and explicit knowledge
about the task (Jones & McLaren, 2009; Shanks & St. John, 1994).
In this study we provide a novel, two-choice SRT paradigm
whereby the locations of the response stimuli are sometimes
predicted by a separate set of stimuli on screen. A color-filled
square appears before each stimulus requiring a response, with
participants informed this is simply a fixation point to prepare for
the next trial. Two out of eight colors are predictive on 80% of
trials, and performance on these consistent trials was faster than on the other six colors that were equally likely to result in either of the two possible responses. All these trial types were faster and more accurate than the remaining inconsistent 20% of trials for the
predictive colors, which also produce more errors than control
colors. A prediction task and interview followed the task, on which
participants performed at near (slightly below) chance levels. We
suggest that this task is a useful tool for studying associative
learning in humans, as it provides reliable effects that appear to
demonstrate implicit learning with relatively brief training.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsNaomi Miyake, David Peebles, Richard P. Cooper
Place of PublicationAustin, Texas
PublisherCognitive Science Society
ISBN (Print)9780976831884
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society - Sapporo, Japan
Duration: 1 Aug 20124 Aug 2012

Academic conference

Academic conference34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society


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