Unconscious symmetrical inferences: A role of consciousness in event integration

Consciousness and Cognition 15 (2):386-396 (2006)
Explicit and implicit learning have been attributed to different learning processes that create different types of knowledge structures. Consistent with that claim, our study provides evidence that people integrate stimulus events differently when consciously aware versus unaware of the relationship between the events. In a first, acquisition phase participants sorted words into two categories , which were fully predicted by task-irrelevant primes—the labels of two other, semantically unrelated categories . In a second, test phase participants performed a lexical decision task, in which all word stimuli stemmed from the previous prime categories and the primes were the labels of the previous target categories . Reliable priming effects in the second phase demonstrated that bidirectional associations between the respective categories had been formed in the acquisition phase , but these effects were found only in participants that were unaware of the relationship between the categories! We suggest that unconscious, implicit learning of event relationships results in the rather unsophisticated integration of the underlying event representations, whereas explicit learning takes the meaning of the order of the events into account, and thus creates unidirectional associations
Keywords *Cognitive Processes  *Consciousness States  *Implicit Learning  *Inference  *Lexical Decision  Knowledge Level  Priming
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