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Generalized lessons about sequence learning from the study of the serial reaction time task.

Schwarb H, Schumacher EH - Adv Cogn Psychol (2012)

Bottom Line: It is important, however, to ask what, if anything, the discoveries made using the SRT task tell us about implicit learning more generally.It also challenges researchers to use the vast body of knowledge acquired with the SRT task to understand other implicit learning literatures too often ignored in the context of this particular task.This broad perspective will make it possible to identify congruences among data acquired using various different tasks that will allow us to generalize about the nature of implicit learning.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

ABSTRACT
Over the last 20 years researchers have used the serial reaction time (SRT) task to investigate the nature of spatial sequence learning. They have used the task to identify the locus of spatial sequence learning, identify situations that enhance and those that impair learning, and identify the important cognitive processes that facilitate this type of learning. Although controversies remain, the SRT task has been integral in enhancing our understanding of implicit sequence learning. It is important, however, to ask what, if anything, the discoveries made using the SRT task tell us about implicit learning more generally. This review analyzes the state of the current spatial SRT sequence learning literature highlighting the stimulus-response rule hypothesis of sequence learning which we believe provides a unifying account of discrepant SRT data. It also challenges researchers to use the vast body of knowledge acquired with the SRT task to understand other implicit learning literatures too often ignored in the context of this particular task. This broad perspective will make it possible to identify congruences among data acquired using various different tasks that will allow us to generalize about the nature of implicit learning.

No MeSH data available.


Analysis of dual-task interference on the serial reaction time (SRTSRT)task of 21 published dual-task sequence learning experiments. In eachexperiment, the SRT task was paired with a tone-counting task. For theSRT task, the underlying sequence was higher order (i.e., at least someambiguous associations) and deterministic (i.e., no studies usingprobabilistic mappings were included). The dual-task interference on SRTtask performance (i.e., the difference between the SRTSRT task reactiontimes [RTs] under single- and dual-task conditions) is indicated by thelength of the white and black bars for each experiment. The numbersacross the top of the figure represent ranges of approximate mean RTs.The left edge of each bar represents the approximate mean RTs for thesingle-task conditions. The right edge represents the approximate meanRTs for the dual-task conditions. Experiments reporting significantdual-task sequence learning are plotted with white bars and experimentsreporting no significant dual-task sequence learning are plotted withblack bars. The mean transfer effect (i.e., the amount of sequencelearning) for each experiment is also shown. Adapted from “ParallelResponse Selection Disrupts Sequence Learning Under Dual-TaskConditions” by E. H. Schumacher and H.Schwarb, 2009, Journal of Experimental Psychology:General, 138, p. 282. Copyright 2009 by the AmericanPsychological Association. Reprinted with permission.
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Figure 1: Analysis of dual-task interference on the serial reaction time (SRTSRT)task of 21 published dual-task sequence learning experiments. In eachexperiment, the SRT task was paired with a tone-counting task. For theSRT task, the underlying sequence was higher order (i.e., at least someambiguous associations) and deterministic (i.e., no studies usingprobabilistic mappings were included). The dual-task interference on SRTtask performance (i.e., the difference between the SRTSRT task reactiontimes [RTs] under single- and dual-task conditions) is indicated by thelength of the white and black bars for each experiment. The numbersacross the top of the figure represent ranges of approximate mean RTs.The left edge of each bar represents the approximate mean RTs for thesingle-task conditions. The right edge represents the approximate meanRTs for the dual-task conditions. Experiments reporting significantdual-task sequence learning are plotted with white bars and experimentsreporting no significant dual-task sequence learning are plotted withblack bars. The mean transfer effect (i.e., the amount of sequencelearning) for each experiment is also shown. Adapted from “ParallelResponse Selection Disrupts Sequence Learning Under Dual-TaskConditions” by E. H. Schumacher and H.Schwarb, 2009, Journal of Experimental Psychology:General, 138, p. 282. Copyright 2009 by the AmericanPsychological Association. Reprinted with permission.

Mentions: Furthermore, in a meta-analysis of the dual-task SRT literature (cf. Schumacher & Schwarb, 2009), we lookedat average RTs on single-task compared to dual-task trials for 21 publishedstudies investigating dual-task sequence learning (cf. Figure 1). Fifteen of those experiments reported successfuldual-task sequence learning while six reported impaired dual-task learning. Weexamined the amount of dual-task interference on the SRT task (i.e., the mean RTdifference between single- and dual-task trials) present in each experiment. Wefound that experiments that showed little dual-task interference were morelikely to report intact dual-task sequence learning. Similarly, those studiesshowing large dual-task interference effects were more likely to report impaireddual-task sequence learning. In fact, there was significantly less dual-taskinterference in those studies demonstrating successful sequence learningcompared to those studies demonstrating impaired learning. This meta-analysissuggests that high dual-task costs are associated with impaired sequencelearning and that high dual-task costs are likely the result of parallelresponse selection processes in the dual-SRT task. However, when responseselection processes occur serially and dual-task interference is minimized,sequence learning emerges. This hypothesis is consistent with the S-R rulehypothesis of sequence learning derived from the single-task SRT literature.


Generalized lessons about sequence learning from the study of the serial reaction time task.

Schwarb H, Schumacher EH - Adv Cogn Psychol (2012)

Analysis of dual-task interference on the serial reaction time (SRTSRT)task of 21 published dual-task sequence learning experiments. In eachexperiment, the SRT task was paired with a tone-counting task. For theSRT task, the underlying sequence was higher order (i.e., at least someambiguous associations) and deterministic (i.e., no studies usingprobabilistic mappings were included). The dual-task interference on SRTtask performance (i.e., the difference between the SRTSRT task reactiontimes [RTs] under single- and dual-task conditions) is indicated by thelength of the white and black bars for each experiment. The numbersacross the top of the figure represent ranges of approximate mean RTs.The left edge of each bar represents the approximate mean RTs for thesingle-task conditions. The right edge represents the approximate meanRTs for the dual-task conditions. Experiments reporting significantdual-task sequence learning are plotted with white bars and experimentsreporting no significant dual-task sequence learning are plotted withblack bars. The mean transfer effect (i.e., the amount of sequencelearning) for each experiment is also shown. Adapted from “ParallelResponse Selection Disrupts Sequence Learning Under Dual-TaskConditions” by E. H. Schumacher and H.Schwarb, 2009, Journal of Experimental Psychology:General, 138, p. 282. Copyright 2009 by the AmericanPsychological Association. Reprinted with permission.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3376886&req=5

Figure 1: Analysis of dual-task interference on the serial reaction time (SRTSRT)task of 21 published dual-task sequence learning experiments. In eachexperiment, the SRT task was paired with a tone-counting task. For theSRT task, the underlying sequence was higher order (i.e., at least someambiguous associations) and deterministic (i.e., no studies usingprobabilistic mappings were included). The dual-task interference on SRTtask performance (i.e., the difference between the SRTSRT task reactiontimes [RTs] under single- and dual-task conditions) is indicated by thelength of the white and black bars for each experiment. The numbersacross the top of the figure represent ranges of approximate mean RTs.The left edge of each bar represents the approximate mean RTs for thesingle-task conditions. The right edge represents the approximate meanRTs for the dual-task conditions. Experiments reporting significantdual-task sequence learning are plotted with white bars and experimentsreporting no significant dual-task sequence learning are plotted withblack bars. The mean transfer effect (i.e., the amount of sequencelearning) for each experiment is also shown. Adapted from “ParallelResponse Selection Disrupts Sequence Learning Under Dual-TaskConditions” by E. H. Schumacher and H.Schwarb, 2009, Journal of Experimental Psychology:General, 138, p. 282. Copyright 2009 by the AmericanPsychological Association. Reprinted with permission.
Mentions: Furthermore, in a meta-analysis of the dual-task SRT literature (cf. Schumacher & Schwarb, 2009), we lookedat average RTs on single-task compared to dual-task trials for 21 publishedstudies investigating dual-task sequence learning (cf. Figure 1). Fifteen of those experiments reported successfuldual-task sequence learning while six reported impaired dual-task learning. Weexamined the amount of dual-task interference on the SRT task (i.e., the mean RTdifference between single- and dual-task trials) present in each experiment. Wefound that experiments that showed little dual-task interference were morelikely to report intact dual-task sequence learning. Similarly, those studiesshowing large dual-task interference effects were more likely to report impaireddual-task sequence learning. In fact, there was significantly less dual-taskinterference in those studies demonstrating successful sequence learningcompared to those studies demonstrating impaired learning. This meta-analysissuggests that high dual-task costs are associated with impaired sequencelearning and that high dual-task costs are likely the result of parallelresponse selection processes in the dual-SRT task. However, when responseselection processes occur serially and dual-task interference is minimized,sequence learning emerges. This hypothesis is consistent with the S-R rulehypothesis of sequence learning derived from the single-task SRT literature.

Bottom Line: It is important, however, to ask what, if anything, the discoveries made using the SRT task tell us about implicit learning more generally.It also challenges researchers to use the vast body of knowledge acquired with the SRT task to understand other implicit learning literatures too often ignored in the context of this particular task.This broad perspective will make it possible to identify congruences among data acquired using various different tasks that will allow us to generalize about the nature of implicit learning.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

ABSTRACT
Over the last 20 years researchers have used the serial reaction time (SRT) task to investigate the nature of spatial sequence learning. They have used the task to identify the locus of spatial sequence learning, identify situations that enhance and those that impair learning, and identify the important cognitive processes that facilitate this type of learning. Although controversies remain, the SRT task has been integral in enhancing our understanding of implicit sequence learning. It is important, however, to ask what, if anything, the discoveries made using the SRT task tell us about implicit learning more generally. This review analyzes the state of the current spatial SRT sequence learning literature highlighting the stimulus-response rule hypothesis of sequence learning which we believe provides a unifying account of discrepant SRT data. It also challenges researchers to use the vast body of knowledge acquired with the SRT task to understand other implicit learning literatures too often ignored in the context of this particular task. This broad perspective will make it possible to identify congruences among data acquired using various different tasks that will allow us to generalize about the nature of implicit learning.

No MeSH data available.