Deferred feedback sharply dissociates implicit and explicit category learning

TitleDeferred feedback sharply dissociates implicit and explicit category learning
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsJ Smith, D., Boomer J., Zakrzewski A. C., Roeder J. L., Church B. A., & F Ashby G.
JournalPsychological Science
Date Published2014 Feb
KeywordsAdult, Association Learning, Concept Formation, Feedback, Psychological, Humans, Reinforcement (Psychology), Young Adult

The controversy over multiple category-learning systems is reminiscent of the controversy over multiple memory systems. Researchers continue to seek paradigms to sharply dissociate explicit category-learning processes (featuring category rules that can be verbalized) from implicit category-learning processes (featuring learned stimulus-response associations that lie outside declarative cognition). We contribute a new dissociative paradigm, adapting the technique of deferred-rearranged reinforcement from comparative psychology. Participants learned matched category tasks that had either a one-dimensional, rule-based solution or a multidimensional, information-integration solution. They received feedback either immediately or after each block of trials, with the feedback organized such that positive outcomes were grouped and negative outcomes were grouped (deferred-rearranged reinforcement). Deferred reinforcement qualitatively eliminated implicit, information-integration category learning. It left intact explicit, rule-based category learning. Moreover, implicit-category learners facing deferred-rearranged reinforcement turned by default and information-processing necessity to rule-based strategies that poorly suited their nominal category task. The results represent one of the strongest explicit-implicit dissociations yet seen in the categorization literature.

Alternate JournalPsychol Sci
PubMed ID24335605
PubMed Central IDPMC3946254
Grant ListP01 NS044393 / NS / NINDS NIH HHS / United States
R01 HD061455 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
HD-060563 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P01 HD060563 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
HD-061455 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States