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Implicit Sequence Learning: Target Identity versus Location
AuthorSingley, Nathan Thomas
AdvisorHutsler, Jeffrey J.
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In recent decades research in implicit learning has expanded beyond classic stimulus-response accounts. Mounting evidence indicates that prior classifications of implicit learning as a purely motor learning process may no longer be viable. Recent debate has focused upon the validity of implicit learning as a process dissociable from explicit learning. Alternative accounts propose unitary learning processes regardless of learning conditions. To better resolve these controversies we compare measures of implicit and explicit learning in a classic serial reaction time task with those of a novel serial reaction time task. By comparing measures of learning under both implicit and explicit conditions, we examine the distinctness of the implicit learning process. Whereas in the classic serial reaction time task subjects must respond to and learn a sequence of stimulus locations, in the novel serial reaction time task subjects must respond to and learn a sequence of stimulus identities. The successful acquisition of a sequence of stimulus identities challenges notions of the specificity of implicit learning as a phenomenon of non-cognitive motor learning.