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Defining the Parameters of Incidental Learning on a Serial Reaction Time (SRT) Task: Do Conscious Rules Apply?

Barker LA - Brain Sci (2012)

Bottom Line: Studies generally measure explicit process contributions to incidental learning by comparing dual- to single-task sequence learning on some variant of a Serial Reaction Time (SRT), usually adopting an auditory tone counting task as the secondary task/memory load.Few studies have used secondary working memory stimuli with the SRT task, those that have typically presented secondary stimuli, before, after or between primary task stimuli.Arguably, this design is problematic because participants may potentially "switch" attention between sequential stimulus sources limiting the potential of both tasks to simultaneously index shared cognitive resources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Brain, Behaviour and Cognition Group, Department of Psychology, Sheffield Hallam University, Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield, S10 2BP, UK. l.barker@shu.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
There is ongoing debate about the contribution of explicit processes to incidental learning, particularly attention, working memory and control mechanisms. Studies generally measure explicit process contributions to incidental learning by comparing dual- to single-task sequence learning on some variant of a Serial Reaction Time (SRT), usually adopting an auditory tone counting task as the secondary task/memory load. Few studies have used secondary working memory stimuli with the SRT task, those that have typically presented secondary stimuli, before, after or between primary task stimuli. Arguably, this design is problematic because participants may potentially "switch" attention between sequential stimulus sources limiting the potential of both tasks to simultaneously index shared cognitive resources. In the present study secondary Visual and Verbal, memory tasks were temporally synchronous and spatially embedded with the primary SRT task for Visual and Verbal dual-task conditions and temporally synchronous but spatially displaced for Visual-Spatial and Verbal-Spatial Above/Below conditions, to investigate modality specific contributions of visual, verbal and spatial memory to incidental and explicit sequence learning. Incidental learning scores were not different as an effect of condition but explicit scores were. Explicit scores significantly and incrementally diminished from the Single-task through Visual-Spatial Below conditions; percentage accuracy scores on secondary tasks followed a significant corresponding pattern suggesting an explicit learning/secondary memory task trade-off as memory demands of tasks increased across condition. Incidental learning boundary conditions are unlikely to substantially comprise working memory processes.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Japanese icons appearing in place of circle stimuli for approximately 50% trials in a SRT task acquisition blocks (n = 7) for Visual and Visual-Spatial dual-task conditions.
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brainsci-02-00769-f001: Japanese icons appearing in place of circle stimuli for approximately 50% trials in a SRT task acquisition blocks (n = 7) for Visual and Visual-Spatial dual-task conditions.

Mentions: Japanese icons were selected as visual stimuli embedded within the primary SRT task to recruit visual working memory processes. Icons were selected to prohibit participants from verbally recoding visual information if the primary task made high demands on visual working memory. For example, many familiar objects presented visually can be verbally recoded (i.e., green chair with four legs). The selection of Japanese icons was intended to deter any verbal recoding of visual information due to the abstract and visually complex nature of the icons. Participants were instructed to press the corresponding key as quickly as possible whether a circle or an icon appeared at one of the four target screen locations. Seven pairs of Japanese icons were selected that shared similar features based on piloting data (see Figure 1). Each pair was assigned to one of the seven acquisition blocks with one of the icons appearing in place of circle stimuli at approximately half of stimulus trials that varied between 22 and 28 trials in accordance with Verbal conditions. Both icons (target and foil) were presented at the end of each block. Since icon pairs selected for each block were matched on several dimensions participants had to attend too them, and discriminate between them in order to accurately identify the presented target icon from the foil icon at the end of each block. For three of the seven blocks at acquisition neither icon presented at the end of the block had been featured during stimulus trials to deter accuracy scores that merely reflected guessing. Participants were instructed to attend to the icon appearing in each block and at the end of the block determine whether they had seen the presented icon before by distinguishing between two presented icons (target and foil) and pressing “y” for “yes” or “n” for “no”. For three of the acquisition blocks the correct response to both target and foil icons was “no” because neither had appeared in the previous block. Test procedure was the same as the Single-task condition. Learning scores for the primary task, accuracy scores for the secondary task and explicit measure scores were calculated for each participant.


Defining the Parameters of Incidental Learning on a Serial Reaction Time (SRT) Task: Do Conscious Rules Apply?

Barker LA - Brain Sci (2012)

Japanese icons appearing in place of circle stimuli for approximately 50% trials in a SRT task acquisition blocks (n = 7) for Visual and Visual-Spatial dual-task conditions.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4061816&req=5

brainsci-02-00769-f001: Japanese icons appearing in place of circle stimuli for approximately 50% trials in a SRT task acquisition blocks (n = 7) for Visual and Visual-Spatial dual-task conditions.
Mentions: Japanese icons were selected as visual stimuli embedded within the primary SRT task to recruit visual working memory processes. Icons were selected to prohibit participants from verbally recoding visual information if the primary task made high demands on visual working memory. For example, many familiar objects presented visually can be verbally recoded (i.e., green chair with four legs). The selection of Japanese icons was intended to deter any verbal recoding of visual information due to the abstract and visually complex nature of the icons. Participants were instructed to press the corresponding key as quickly as possible whether a circle or an icon appeared at one of the four target screen locations. Seven pairs of Japanese icons were selected that shared similar features based on piloting data (see Figure 1). Each pair was assigned to one of the seven acquisition blocks with one of the icons appearing in place of circle stimuli at approximately half of stimulus trials that varied between 22 and 28 trials in accordance with Verbal conditions. Both icons (target and foil) were presented at the end of each block. Since icon pairs selected for each block were matched on several dimensions participants had to attend too them, and discriminate between them in order to accurately identify the presented target icon from the foil icon at the end of each block. For three of the seven blocks at acquisition neither icon presented at the end of the block had been featured during stimulus trials to deter accuracy scores that merely reflected guessing. Participants were instructed to attend to the icon appearing in each block and at the end of the block determine whether they had seen the presented icon before by distinguishing between two presented icons (target and foil) and pressing “y” for “yes” or “n” for “no”. For three of the acquisition blocks the correct response to both target and foil icons was “no” because neither had appeared in the previous block. Test procedure was the same as the Single-task condition. Learning scores for the primary task, accuracy scores for the secondary task and explicit measure scores were calculated for each participant.

Bottom Line: Studies generally measure explicit process contributions to incidental learning by comparing dual- to single-task sequence learning on some variant of a Serial Reaction Time (SRT), usually adopting an auditory tone counting task as the secondary task/memory load.Few studies have used secondary working memory stimuli with the SRT task, those that have typically presented secondary stimuli, before, after or between primary task stimuli.Arguably, this design is problematic because participants may potentially "switch" attention between sequential stimulus sources limiting the potential of both tasks to simultaneously index shared cognitive resources.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Brain, Behaviour and Cognition Group, Department of Psychology, Sheffield Hallam University, Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield, S10 2BP, UK. l.barker@shu.ac.uk.

ABSTRACT
There is ongoing debate about the contribution of explicit processes to incidental learning, particularly attention, working memory and control mechanisms. Studies generally measure explicit process contributions to incidental learning by comparing dual- to single-task sequence learning on some variant of a Serial Reaction Time (SRT), usually adopting an auditory tone counting task as the secondary task/memory load. Few studies have used secondary working memory stimuli with the SRT task, those that have typically presented secondary stimuli, before, after or between primary task stimuli. Arguably, this design is problematic because participants may potentially "switch" attention between sequential stimulus sources limiting the potential of both tasks to simultaneously index shared cognitive resources. In the present study secondary Visual and Verbal, memory tasks were temporally synchronous and spatially embedded with the primary SRT task for Visual and Verbal dual-task conditions and temporally synchronous but spatially displaced for Visual-Spatial and Verbal-Spatial Above/Below conditions, to investigate modality specific contributions of visual, verbal and spatial memory to incidental and explicit sequence learning. Incidental learning scores were not different as an effect of condition but explicit scores were. Explicit scores significantly and incrementally diminished from the Single-task through Visual-Spatial Below conditions; percentage accuracy scores on secondary tasks followed a significant corresponding pattern suggesting an explicit learning/secondary memory task trade-off as memory demands of tasks increased across condition. Incidental learning boundary conditions are unlikely to substantially comprise working memory processes.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus