Unconsciously learning task-irrelevant perceptual sequences
We demonstrated unconscious learning of task-irrelevant perceptual regularities in a Serial Reaction Time (SRT) task in both visual and auditory domains. Participants were required to respond to different letters (‘F’ or ‘J’, experiment 1) or syllables (‘can’ or ‘you’, experiment 2) which occurred in random order. Unbeknownst to participants, the color (red, green, blue or yellow) of the two letters or the tone (1–4) of the syllables varied according to certain rules. Reaction times indicated that people indeed learnt both the color and tonal regularities indicating that task-irrelevant sequence structure can be learned perceptually. In a subsequent prediction test of knowledge of the color or tonal cues using subjective measures, we showed that people could acquire task irrelevant knowledge unconsciously. âº Paper explores suggested constraints on implicit learning. âº Shows task irrelevance does not rule out implicit learning. âº Perceptual learning of irrelevant perceptual sequences can be expressed in reaction times.