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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 25;8(9):e75163. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075163. eCollection 2013.

A sequence identification measurement model to investigate the implicit learning of metrical temporal patterns.

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MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia ; Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, Team Auditory Cognition and Psychoacoustics, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixtes de Recherche 5292, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U1028, Université Lyon, Lyon, Rhône-Alpes, France.


Implicit learning (IL) occurs unconsciously and without intention. Perceptual fluency is the ease of processing elicited by previous exposure to a stimulus. It has been assumed that perceptual fluency is associated with IL. However, the role of perceptual fluency following IL has not been investigated in temporal pattern learning. Two experiments by Schultz, Stevens, Keller, and Tillmann demonstrated the IL of auditory temporal patterns using a serial reaction-time task and a generation task based on the process dissociation procedure. The generation task demonstrated that learning was implicit in both experiments via motor fluency, that is, the inability to suppress learned information. With the aim to disentangle conscious and unconscious processes, we analyze unreported recognition data associated with the Schultz et al. experiments using the sequence identification measurement model. The model assumes that perceptual fluency reflects unconscious processes and IL. For Experiment 1, the model indicated that conscious and unconscious processes contributed to recognition of temporal patterns, but that unconscious processes had a greater influence on recognition than conscious processes. In the model implementation of Experiment 2, there was equal contribution of conscious and unconscious processes in the recognition of temporal patterns. As Schultz et al. demonstrated IL in both experiments using a generation task, and the conditions reported here in Experiments 1 and 2 were identical, two explanations are offered for the discrepancy in model and behavioral results based on the two tasks: 1) perceptual fluency may not be necessary to infer IL, or 2) conscious control over implicitly learned information may vary as a function of perceptual fluency and motor fluency.

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