Dick J. Bierman

In this paper we explore the extent to which implicit learning is subtended by somatic markers, as evidenced by skin conductance measures. On each trial subjects were asked to decide which ‘word’ from a pair of ‘words’ was the ‘correct’ word. Unknown to subjects, each ‘word’ of a pair was constructed using a different set of rules (grammar ‘A’ and grammar ‘B’). A (monetary) reward was given if the subject choose the ‘word’ from grammar ‘A’. Choosing the grammar ‘B’ word resulted in (monetary) punishment. Skin conductance was measured during each of 100 trials. After each set of 10 trials subjects were asked how they selected the ‘correct word’. Task performance increased long before the subjects could even formulate a single relevant rule. In this ‘pre-conceptual’ phase of the experiment, skin conductance was larger before incorrect than before correct choices. Thus it was shown that artificial grammar learning is accompagnied by a somatic marker, possibly ‘warning’ the subject for the incorrect decision.
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