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work in the early work interest in implicit has done most of his em with tasks. DEFINITION AND OPERATIONALIZATION psychology. can this classifi ticipants perform cation task with than would better accuracy be expected by chance. Arthur Copyright ? 2003 American Psychological Society . Although and operationalizing remains learning theoretical to be Implicit learning? as laxly defined learning without awareness?is ubiqui seemingly tous in everyday life. about how op implicit learning in dif For example. par are told that the strings ticipants "XXRTRXV" and certain followed they memorized are asked to new rules. even researchers who agree in their use definitions might experimen tal tasks that differ in what exactly Divergent entail learn. partici and learn about permissible pants nonpermissible locations spatial time. ticipants. are In the SRTT. There participants might fore. the serial re action time task (SRTT). we summa tion is achieved. to ver unable remaining participants a set of letter are asked to memorize a scientists' plicit challenge. to investi another task often used gate implicit learning. awareness asked learning. bally describe in a grammar-learning Thus. of "learning the existence ing without awareness. such as strings. The emerging view of implicit learning emphasizes role of associative learning that exploit statis mechanisms tical dependencies ronment in order highly specific resentations. issues. have been of of is screen. First. learn about per task. In general. generated by After the memorization phase. three separate discuss we address what is meant by im plicit learning and how the concept in has been empirically approached the recent past. participants to be able to learn the sequence of even when locations spatial they are not able to it. In this article. By comparison. verbally describe of implicit opera learning divergent but tionalizations of the concept. participants a to select and depress key that matches each of the locations a stimulus on a at which appears The one basic theoretical issue that it Have you ever wondered why is that you can speak your native so well without making language errors any grammatical although of the you do not know many rules you follow? grammatical Have you ever wondered how it is can walk that you al properly describe the you cannot though rules of mechanics your body must follow? These two exam certainly an important human ples point to property. hypothesis-driven learning). we discuss some of the most impor tant current topics of investigation. Berlin. This point eralized leads to our first conclusion: definitions One important consequence the heterogeneity of definitions that different researchers have erationalized ferent ways. unbeknownst some rules. Germany pirical learning. At least a dozen implicit different definitions fered in the field. it remains an open empirical issue to what extent results from a to task that has been used given can be gen probe implicit learning to other tasks. Although clear that implicit learning needs to in opposition to learning be viewed that is not implicit (often called ex plicit. the cognitive implicit learn despite the rules. namely. artificial-gram In these tasks. The sequence of locations at is which the stimulus appears seem fixed. of im understanding has progressed learning Beyond establish significantly. combinations that occur of over knowledge Keywords cognitive consciousness. we try to provide an research overview of the difficulties on implicit learning has been facing that have been and of the advances in scientists' understanding of made we the concept. "QQWMWQP. Second. Third.CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE 13 Implicit Learning Peter A. mar-learning Abstract Implicit learning appears a fundamental and ubiquitous process defining implicit central in cognition. follow strings grammatical par ing the rules) or not." current re to identify the cog nitive processes that support and addresses implicit learning search seeks learn the relationship between awareness of what was ing and learned. Typically. More specifically. rize what is currently some certainty about known with the processes underlying representations ing and the mental that are acquired through it. Frensch1 and Dennis Department of Psychology. the ability to adapt to environmental learn?in knowledge the constraints?to absence of any the adapta reigns supreme among the difficul concerns the ties facing researchers and operationalization definition of it seems implicit learning." to the par that are. whose 1960s rekindled R?nger University..e. it so far proven extremely difficult has to provide a satisfactory definition of learning. and classify as (i. Humboldt Reber. participants com and nonpermissible missible binations of letters that are presented in the envi to generate rep in simultaneously.
. learning to be implicit when aware of what is assumed participants In they learned. other words. many authors have ar correlated with their scores for the SRTT. varying lengths Each noted sequence (e. it has been ar poor validity. learning researchers have therefore Many that awareness should be suggested assessed by forced-choice tests. of the the properties mechanisms involved port is used to assess awareness of many experi acquired knowledge. Alter natively. participants tests asked to complete recognition letter they have categorized as or non strings grammatical For example. is different from learning plicit that is "not implicit. had For example. Second. in and the grammar-learning cluding we de tasks sequence-learning re if verbal scribed earlier. This is almost certainly not the case. assess are pro tion scores gued that verbal reports may have First. Many to avoid have been awareness to assess of proposed of learning. that is. It was patterns recogni to define implicit and have. ies appear not to support the exist ence of implicit learning. they were completed of sequence patterns presented in numerical form. Itwas found that participants' correlated with their markings classification performance. However. sug cess pure). NUMBER 1. Neither learning nor the acquired mental repre sentations need be the same. were asked to studies participants indicate for each letter string which letters particular they thought or made the string grammatical not. implicit learning is de rather fined in terms of its product than the properties of the learning Various measures not are or not in the first place. the key empirical research needs to address iswhether is learning that is "implicit" im and if it is. In the grammar-learning para are sometimes digm. participants choose a correct answer on a might test not because forced-choice they are aware of the fact that it is the answer correct but because they on some intuition that rely they are not able to express. often without learning the stating so explicitly.. to be "im is assumed learning are un participants plicit" when aware of what they learned. Jacoby's process tion procedure offers a measure of awareness that is derived from ex conditions that are be perimental to trigger both implicit and simulta processes nonimplicit This consideration of how neously. Thus. FEBRUARY 2003 1. of have issue tried 2. adopted stance that implicit is learning to learn without the capacity awareness of the products of of how it has be However. . many different different para ing experimental have used forced-choice digms tests to assess awareness of the ac and these stud quired knowledge. Implicit learning of Conclusion Task A is not necessarily compa rable to implicit learning of Task B." learning have for practi researchers Many as their defini cal reasons adopted tion of implicit learning "the capac awareness of ity to learn without the products of learning. that the verbal-report data do gued not pass the information criterion. Thus. rather than ver recognition bal recall. in some grammatical. 123432) de a series of locations on the were screen. it has been argued However. that this particular interpretation rests on the assumption that the forced-choice ments of tests awareness are pure (i. such as tests. come clear that the amount of for implicit support learning with varies the considerably measure that is selected specific to assess awareness of what was learned.g. pure has fostered after dissocia ample. The growing that tests are rarely understanding process of new based the use that are not methodologies on this For ex assumption. not provide a level of sensitivity that to that of tests demon is comparable recall strating demonstrated ver THE KEY ISSUE of how implicit Regardless and operation is defined learning issue that alized. The most the products notable measures are verbal re ports as recognition experiments been shown and forced-choice tests (such Participants tests). the information assessed by verbal recall tests is not always the same information that has led to the bal learning. bally true for a wide variety of tasks. learning. after participants the SRTT. had encountered iment as true they had not found that participants' Published by Blackwell Publishing Inc. It is even conceivable that implicit learning of Task A might be pos of sible. but implicit learning Task B might not.14 VOLUME 12. they may sensitivity criterion. awareness gesting at least partial the knowledge learned. In learning studies us general. Participants computer asked to mark that they the exper during and patterns that seen as false. mental appear to support findings the conclusion that implicit learn ing is possible. researchers duced the problem of how intro to de have consistently to be able to acquire that they cannot ver knowledge to be This appears describe. whether possible. awareness should be assessed lieved leads to our second Conclusion conclusion: researchers the difficult process. in implicit-learning Similar have been ob findings in studies that have used tained other implicit-learning paradigms.e. by avoiding the issue of how to define implicit have learning. Indeed." Thus. not pass the tests might that is.
1. from one con transferred to another. in which. ness need not be?but be? might to correlated. Possible relations between learning and awareness of what was learned. definitional been been In the end. Copyright ? 2003 American Psychological Society . According single memory is always to the four remaining aware learning and possibilities. Some of the learned memory be open to representations might some not be. cept MECHANISMS OF LEARNING AND AWARENESS Even when the sense of implicit learning (in learning that yields is not aware helpful to consider the different ways in principle. Figure 1 depicts might five of the many distinct possibilities that have been proposed. might The last three possibilities (Figs. According an mech sibility.CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE 15 fine awareness. learning and awareness of the products of learning be related. of course. implicit-learning anism might generate memory rep lc-le) allow for the learner knowledge one is demonstrated of) conclusively. Exposure to environmental regularity Single learning process Conscious awareness regularity of Learned behavior Conscious awareness B Exposure to environmental regularity Single learning process regularity of Learned behavior Exposure to environmental regularity Implicit learning process Learned behavior Non-implicit learning process Conscious awareness regularity of D Exposure to environmental regularity Non-implicit learning process Conscious awareness regularity Learned behavior Implicit learning process of E Exposure to environmental regularity Non-implicit learning process Conscious awareness regularity of Implicit learning process Learned behavior Fig. awareness. As is shown la. it is. the has not question but has merely resolved. a be achieved by learning might correlated. conceivable of and awareness that learning what has been learned are perfectly to this pro does not implicit learning posal. depicted According Figure lb. a single learning mecha to create memory nism is assumed that control behav representations ior. First. truly implicit to the third pos learning. in Figure exist. According perfectly in the second possibility. underlying mechanism aware that generates a learner representations of. learns little about the mechanisms It is implicit learning.
Consideration of the cognitive mechanisms that might be in in implicit learning leads to volved our third conclusion: Conclusion 3.e. the question awareness of and systems conscious outside of The fifth possibility. problem and long-term reasoning. On the whole.. system hypotheses. hypothesis-testing) learning that might generate aware ness of what was learned (Fig. shown in Fig ure le. solving. then recent If one the use of to assess research on ear implicit learning has modified lier theoretical beliefs in important Earlier work had character ways. Also. Under this view. nonimplicit awareness and might the possibility that implicit plored and nonimplicit be learning might affected by age. demonstrated do seem to show a deficit patients in implicit learning compared with normal control participants. it has been found that im plicit learning is less affected by age than is learning that is based on hy Indeed. the debate be tween multiple-systems propo nents nents and single-system propo has not been settled yet. learning For sessed and task demands awareness with and awareness. most tennis know that players solid a strokes ground require to move toward the ap player ball instead of away proaching from it. The in turn. researchers have on on ex learning without example. For ex a tennis ample. a continuously increasing amount of empirical data. differences stimulus complexity. implicit learning in the SRTT does not appear to begin to decline until relatively old and even then.e. in Fig by the possibilities depicted ures lc through le. IMPORTANT ADVANCES MADE agrees with measures verbal-report awareness. player might perceive an increased accuracy of her serve. from the single system hypothesis. The perception of one's own behav in turn. Id). The conscious effort to en gage lead in a forward movement may to learning within the motor that lies largely awareness. NUMBER 1. Defining respect porting ness" view expression the input for the op might provide eration of an implicit-learning mechanism (Fig. More prediction ical reexaminations how have. that even early studies suggested can amnesic densely patients implicit ing in both the grammar-learning and the sequence-learning para digms. The relative two hypotheses of adequacy can be as support view. have been ever. . but rather has tried to demon strate that learning in is possible the absence of learners' awareness of the acquired How knowledge. the multiple-systems have Brain-imaging techniques to study been used increasingly in the SRTT. involving. lends some credibility to therefore the multiple-systems view. might lead to nonim ior. both neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies stud ies have addressed the adequacy of the multiple-systems and single For example. plicit She might then conclude that the reason for this improvement is to found in a slightly higher toss of be the ball.16 VOLUME 12. With differentially the SRTT. For example. age of participants. implicit to aware learning ness of the of learning products has drawn attention away from the mechanisms that are respon with sible for the generation of differ ent forms of Despite knowledge. is that there exist two distinct with one of learning mechanisms. at plicit not clear whether these present. several attempts to distinguish made the two-sys tems hypothesis (i. the elderly dis age. of the research this research memory. although they are specifi and cally impaired on recognition recent crit tasks. of behavior. The fourth possibility lead to learning might of what was learned. it is. Al implicit learning some results that though suggest distinctive brain areas are partially in implicit and nonim forms of learning. FEBRUARY 2003 resentations that control behavior. that amnesic ever. testing.. how exactly be interrelated learning might has only recently to be begun addressed empirically. that are levels play performance to those of younger closer much pothesis adults for implicit-learning tasks than for nonimplicit-learning tasks for example. or it is therefore unclear whether on the whole. is that nonimplicit represented learning). the mechanisms generating mem that a learner is ory representations aware of. control behavior. (depicted in Fig. atten such as intention individual tion. lb). lc). as should be interpreted findings involved evidence systems the multiple supporting view or as evidence sup a aware "single-system plus the potentially by exploring influence of variables differing to learn. show near-normal learn Furthermore. and the other mechanism that a generating representations learner is not aware of but that nev ertheless Most that has with the differ been concerned ence between implicit and nonim plicit learning has not addressed in Figure 1 de which possibility nature of implicit learn scribes the ing. that there are separate systems for implicit and control behavior. the effects of im plicit learning are an important trig ger for nonimplicit learning. in intelligence. ized implicit learning as a mecha nism by which abstract knowledge of regularities in that are present the environment matically is acquired and unintentionally auto by Published by Blackwell Publishing Inc. represented by the possibilities in Figures depicted these la and lb. (i. not the findings.
e. recent findings. The early proposal of a smart unconscious capable of acquiring abstract knowledge in an effortless. up statistical dependencies pick specific highly It is knowledge representations. explicit auto hypothesis testing). proceeds capacity. When these two factors are Thus. learning letters (visual stim volving written can transfer to in uli) performance a task letter sounds (au involving ditory stimuli). incremental change in the associative pattern that is sensi tive to the statistical features of the set of items or events encountered." resources that becomes cognitive when resources have to be apparent shared by concurrent cognitive pro cesses.. the field still suf vances. encountered and generate in the environment ner has been by findings implicitly acquired knowledge transfer across modalities. When "attention" is used with "mental capac synonymously it instead refers to a limitation of ity. Third. Although the characteriza tion of implicitly acquired knowledge is still a matter of debate. un like nonimplicit learning (i. In the For example." To achieve this progress Copyright ? 2003 American Psychological Society . "attention" tations of elementary stimuli in the learning situation (e. Second. tional resources. by many implicitly acquired consist of little knowledge might more than short or chunks fragments of the materials in an encountered implicit-learning wake of these findings. the key theoreti cal issue of how to define implicit learning has still not been resolved. often the amount of atten manipulating to partici tional resources available them to perform the pants by asking SRTT either by itself or together with a a tone task (typically secondary counting task). representa tions of letters in a grarrimar-leaming between the task) and associations of representations. Learning a continuous. fers from a number of unresolved and theoretical issues.g. that it has been found Conclusion 4. on with the empirical findings task that ap grammar-learning exposure to show that participants abstract possessed knowledge about the rules of the grammar that went beyond the surface character peared istics of the information This ported claim seemed encountered. recent studies have ex Many whether plored implicit learning. that the mechanisms oper likely ate only on information that is to and that is relevant attended to the response to be made. This view has been challenged. Progress key theoretical issue can come. that shown it has been repeatedly takes place implicit learning both in the presence and in the ab sence of a task. however. there exist conflicting the role of attention in regarding the exact implicit learning. of a smart uncon proposal scious was based. Today. most of these studies have used the SRTT. for may from a task in example. but that implicit learning require no or very little mental advances in researchers' generated. is the extent to which implicit learning is affected by the attention manipu lation. 1) unknown. to and that are relevant the recent Despite for ad Researchers' of attentional availability take the stance Others itself that the is adversely learning process affected of a sec by the presence at task and thus requires ondary tentional resources. further indicating sup that without the use of atten matically. occurs stimuli only when learning are relevant to the task and are at separately tended may to. Under on the does not depend learning resources. how ever. relation between and learning awareness is very much (see Fig. the experiments that have been conducted all suffer from the problem that attention itself is an ill-defined concept that might se refer to both mental capacity and lection. empirical results First. to a large extent." and points consists to the problem of allocating resources to a cognitive specific item or event. On the whole. We strongly believe that progress on the former two (empirical) issues soon and will be made will be based on improved methodology and the joint use of computational and functional brain-im modeling on the aging techniques. In the latter sense. In general. CONCLUSIONS of understanding has come a long implicit learning that im way.e. These models situation. What secondary remains unclear. implicit learning proper the secondary task impedes the expression of what has been this view." "awareness. many believe exists. automatic man replaced recently of one or by the assumption more implicit learning mecha asso that operate mostly nisms These mechanisms ciatively. Some researchers argue that the secondary task interferes with with that task performance rather than (i. a representation of the implicit that is shaped by learning situation statistical constraints gradually evolves... By far. however. at present. neural-net work models and fragment-based models that are capable of simulating a great deal of the available experi mental have been devel findings utilize represen oped.CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE 17 mere The to relevant instances. only from theoretical advances in understanding of the concepts of "consciousness. simple learning These mechanisms associate envi ronmental stimuli that are at tended behavior. implicit learned). the cur rent stract plicitly trend is to assume might knowledge that ab not be im ma and experimentally it appears that implicit nipulated. and further plicit learning more that it is based on relatively mechanisms. Recent of implicit learning understanding lead to our fourth conclusion: "intention.
Surprisingly. Recommended Berry. remains meager. data on a variety of vari naturalistic ables. Barr Taylor1 and Kristine H. the Cleeremans.A. Mechanisms of Cam implicit learning: Connectionist mod of sequence processing. . and nuance. (Eds. Press. or by psychotherapeutic contact reducing Published by Blackwell Publishing Inc. For example. A. An analysis of of studies of computer-assisted effective A number lowing of mental health behaviors. the use of CAI for pro evaluating viding information related tomental have been health or psychotherapy consistently conducted. Over for more accurate estimates Internet applications. New York: Reading & Dienes. cognitive psychologists. and that com more less ex pensive.). California number that include of advantages data completeness and ensuring standardization. knowledge few studies 1995). treating groups also may have advantages therapy. Oxford University Stadler.g. bridge.. Germany. A. the evidence puters efficient. interviews during computer-assisted than face-to-face interviews. Z. apeutic scientific has study seriously of these programs their lagged behind clinical increasing in therapeu the standard in and streamlining found that computer-administered as assessment instruments work in well as other kinds of self-report struments and as well as therapist administered ones. (1998).. Interventions Stanford University Medical C. M. MA: MIT Press. are reported suicidal ing thoughts. (1993). time with clients' the therapist.A. & Frensch. Thousand Oaks. and nonver nor do bal emotional expression. D-10177 Berlin. psychotherapy technology all.NUMBER 1.hu-berlin. clients can record Recently. al less embarrassed about or potentially sensitive purported terventions and these in potential. participation tic activities outside hour. (1993). about sexual behavior or illegal drug use) during a assessment than computer-assisted during a face-to-face assessment. has Research Traditional Psychotherapy Department of Psychiatry. Note Reber.and Internet-based therapy and Internet programs. Stanford. as sessment of behavior.. P. Hove. Computerassisted assessment therapy programs to increase the cost-effectiveness standardized treatments and methods have the potential of I In recent instruction (CAI) found that CAI is in improving (Hetcher-Flinn & Gravatt. Clients may feel reporting stigmatiz ing information (e. e-mail: peter.S. cost-effective. Unfortunately.18 VOLUME 12. els A.C. ethical pose important questions. and number of users of computer has greatly Internet technology of com the potential expanded puter. Im 1. and processing of clients' data put in ther related to their participation the activities. Department of Psychology. Implicit learning and tacit knowledge: An essay on the cognitive unconscious. Computer- and Internet-Based Assessment self paper-based instruments are easily adapted report to the computer format and offer a Center.de. Hausvogteiplatz 5-7. (1993). Studies includ show that more symptoms. D. Handbook of implicit learn ing. FEBRUARY 2003 might require philosophers. foster a therapeutic alliance be they tween client and therapist as infor mation is collected.frensch@psychologie. this approach be effective and over face-to-face research on However. Address correspondence to Peter plicit learning: Theoretical and em pirical issues. England: Erlbaum. handheld computers (PDAs) personal digital assistants have been used to collect real-time. can make more suggests assessments accurate. and professional Keywords computer COMPUTER-BASED PROGRAMS Information of studies have demon can strated that computers provide and econom information effectively a large number ically. and applications. sessment for clinical Yet computer-based interviews do not intuition as allow the increasing years. CA: Sage. of joint efforts and neuroscientists. Luce Abstract and Internet Computers have great po based programs as tential tomake psychological sessment and treatment more Computer-assisted to be as effec therapy appears treatment for tive as face-to-face and anxiety disorders Internet support depression. Frensch. Humboldt University.
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