Working memory affects anticipatory behavior during implicit pattern learning

Srdan Medimorec, Petar Milin, Dagmar Divjak

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Abstract

We investigated the relation between implicit sequence learning and individual differences in working memory (WM) capacity. Participants performed an oculomotor version of the serial reaction time (SRT) task and three computerized WM tasks. Implicit learning was measured using anticipation measures only, as they represent strong indicators of learning. Our results demonstrate that anticipatory behavior in the SRT task changes as a function of WM capacity, such that it increases with decreased WM capacity. On the other hand, WM capacity did not affect the overall number of correct anticipations in the task. In addition, we report a positive relation between WM capacity and the number of consecutive correct anticipations (or chunks), and a negative relation between WM capacity and the overall number of errors, indicating different learning strategies during implicit sequence learning. The results of the current study are theoretically important, because they demonstrate that individual differences in WM capacity could account for differences in learning processes, and ultimately change individuals’ anticipatory behavior, even when learning is implicit, without intention and awareness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Research
Early online date27 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sep 2019

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