The iso-effect: Is there specific learning of Tower of London iso-problems?

Thinking and Reasoning 15 (3):237-249 (2011)
The “Tower of London” puzzle was adapted to tablet PCs to be used as a clinical bedside test. “Iso-problems”, a specific class of problems, require identical moves but ball colours are permuted. Thus difficulty is the same even if the appearance is different. We wanted to determine the impact of these as yet little-studied tasks and hypothesised that there may be a learning effect specific to them (the “iso-effect”). We interspersed a set of six iso-problems within one selection of 22 tasks and analysed problem solving by 81 healthy adults (mean age 41.6 years). Participants showed learning across iso-problems (less time, fewer moves, increasingly efficient solutions). This effect was distinct from general learning, as was obvious from comparison with a series of non-isomorphic tasks. However, participants seem not to be aware of solving such problems. This “iso-effect” may be related to implicit memory, a domain that so far has not been assessed using the Tower of London
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DOI 10.1080/13546780902924308
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