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Psychol Rep. 2010 Dec;107(3):860-72.

Resource depletion promotes automatic processing: implications for distribution of practice.

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University of Nevada, Reno, USA.


Recent models of cognition include two processing systems: an automatic system that relies on associative learning, intuition, and heuristics, and a controlled system that relies on deliberate consideration. Automatic processing requires fewer resources and is more likely when resources are depleted. This study showed that prolonged practice on a resource-depleting mental arithmetic task promoted automatic processing on a subsequent problem-solving task, as evidenced by faster responding and more errors. Distribution of practice effects (0, 60, 120, or 180 sec. between problems) on rigidity also disappeared when groups had equal time on resource-depleting tasks. These results suggest that distribution of practice effects is reducible to resource availability. The discussion includes implications for interpreting discrepancies in the traditional distribution of practice effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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