Top-down versus bottom-up learning in cognitive skill acquisition


This paper explores the interaction between implicit and explicit processes during skill learning, in terms of top-down learning (that is, learning that goes from explicit to implicit knowledge) versus bottom-up learning (that is, learning that goes from implicit to explicit knowledge). Instead of studying each type of knowledge (implicit or explicit) in isolation, we stress the interaction between the two types, especially in terms of one type giving rise to the other, and its effects on learning. The work presents an integrated model of skill learning that takes into account both implicit and explicit processes and both top-down and bottom-up learning. We examine and simulate human data in the Tower of Hanoi task. The paper shows how the quantitative data in this task may be captured using either top-down or bottom-up approaches, although top-down learning is a more apt explanation of the human data currently available. These results illustrate the two different directions of learning (top-down versus bottom-up), and thereby provide a new perspective on skill learning. Ó 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.



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