Out of control: An associative account of congruency effects in sequence learning

Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):413-421 (2012)

Abstract

The demonstration of a sequential congruency effect in sequence learning has been offered as evidence for control processes that act to inhibit automatic response tendencies via unconscious conflict monitoring. Here we propose an alternative interpretation of this effect based on the associative learning of chains of sequenced contingencies. This account is supported by simulations with a Simple Recurrent Network, an associative model of sequence learning. We argue that the control- and associative-based accounts differ in their predictions concerning the magnitude of the sequential congruency effect across training. These predictions are tested by reanalysing data from a study by Shanks, Wilkinson, and Channon . The results support the associative learning account which explains the sequential congruency effect without appealing to control processes

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