Learning without consciously knowing: Evidence from event-related potentials in sequence learning

Consciousness and Cognition 22 (1):22-34 (2013)
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Abstract

This paper investigated how implicit and explicit knowledge is reflected in event-related potentials in sequence learning. ERPs were recorded during a serial reaction time task. The results showed that there were greater RT benefits for standard compared with deviant stimuli later than early on, indicating sequence learning. After training, more standard triplets were generated under inclusion than exclusion tests and more standard triplets under exclusion than chance level, indicating that participants acquired both explicit and implicit knowledge. However, deviant targets elicited enhanced N2 and P3 components for targets with explicit knowledge but a larger N2 effect for targets with implicit knowledge, revealing that implicit knowledge expresses itself in relatively early components and explicit knowledge in additional P3 components. The results help resolve current debate about the neural substrates supporting implicit and explicit learning

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