Sequential congruency effects in implicit sequence learning

Consciousness and Cognition 18 (3):690-700 (2009)
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We deal with situations incongruent with our automatic response tendencies much better right after having done so on a previous trial than after having reacted to a congruent trial. The nature of the mechanisms responsible for these sequential congruency effects is currently a hot topic of debate. According to the conflict monitoring model these effects depend on the adjustment of control triggered by the detection of conflict on the preceding situation. We tested whether these conflict monitoring processes can operate implicitly in an implicit learning procedure, modulating the expression of knowledge of which participants are not aware. We reanalyze recently published data, and present an experiment with a probabilistic sequence learning procedure, both showing consistent effects of implicit sequence learning. Despite being implicit, the expression of learning was reduced or completely eliminated right after trials incongruent with the learned sequence, thus showing that sequential congruency effects can be obtained even when the source of congruency itself remains implicit



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