Knowledge applied to new domains: The unconscious succeeds where the conscious fails

Consciousness and Cognition 19 (1):391-398 (2010)

A common view holds that consciousness is needed for knowledge acquired in one domain to be applied in a novel domain. We present evidence for the opposite; where the transfer of knowledge is achieved only in the absence of conscious awareness. Knowledge of artificial grammars was examined where training and testing occurred in different vocabularies or modalities. In all conditions grammaticality judgments attributed to random selection showed above-chance accuracy , while those attributed to conscious decisions did not. Participants also rated each string’s familiarity and performed a perceptual task assessing fluency. Familiarity was predicted by repetition structure and was thus related to grammaticality. Fluency, though increasing familiarity, was unrelated to grammaticality. While familiarity predicted all judgments only those attributed to random selection showed a significant additional contribution of grammaticality, deriving primarily from chunk novelty. In knowledge transfer, as in visual perception , the unconscious may outperform the conscious
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DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2009.11.009
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On the Relationship Between Autobiographical Memory and Perceptual Learning.Larry L. Jacoby & Mark Dallas - 1981 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 110 (3):306-340.

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