The case for implicit category learning.
This article evaluates the evidence regarding the claim that people can learn a novel category implicitly--that is, by an implicit memory system that is qualitatively different from an explicit system. The evidence that is considered is based on the prototype extraction task, in which participants are first exposed to a set of category exemplars under incidental learning instructions and are then required to categorize novel test items. Knowlton and Squire (1993) first reported that memory-impaired patients performed normally on the prototype extraction task while being impaired on a comparable recognition task. Several studies have replicated these results, but other articles have criticized the evidence for implicit category learning on both methodological and theoretical grounds. In this article, we consider five of these criticisms-for example, that the normal performance of the patients is due to intact working memory mechanisms (see, e.g., Palmeri & Flannery, 1999) or to the lesser cognitive demands of prototype extraction rather than recognition (e.g., Nosofsky & Zaki, 1998). For each of the five criticisms, we offer counterevidence that supports implicit category learning.