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Int J Psychophysiol. 2016 Dec;110:75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2016.10.014. Epub 2016 Oct 19.

Links between autonomic activity and implicit learning.

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Department of Psychology, The Catholic University of America, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, United States.


The somatic marker hypothesis posits that autonomic activity occurring in response to specific stimuli aids in implicit learning, the learning of information without explicit awareness of what has been learned. This study investigated whether respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a measure of autonomic nervous system activity, predicted changes in implicit learning. The interaction of resting RSA and RSA reactivity (change in RSA during the implicit learning task) was associated with changes in implicit learning, with those who had higher resting RSA and greater RSA withdrawal during the task performing better. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the autonomic processes that may underlie implicit learning and are discussed in relation to potential links between autonomic activity, implicit learning, and decision making.


Autonomic activity; Decision making; Implicit learning; Respiratory sinus arrhythmia

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