In this study we aim to examine how the implicit learning of statistical regularities of successive stimuli affects the ability to exert cognitive control. In three experiments, sequences of flanker stimuli were segregated into pairs, with the second stimulus contingent on the first. Response times were reliably faster for the second stimulus if its congruence tended to match the congruence of the preceding stimulus, even though most participants were not explicitly aware of the statistical regularities (Experiment 1). In contrast, performance was not enhanced if the congruence of the second stimuli tended to mismatch the congruence of the first stimulus (Experiment 2). The lack of improvement appears to result from a failure of learning mismatch contingencies (Experiment 3). The results suggest that implicit learning of inter-stimulus relationships can facilitate cognitive control.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)