Incidental learning plays a crucial role in the initial phases of language acquisition. However the knowledge derived from implicit learning, which is based on prediction-based mechanisms, may become explicit. The role that attention plays in the formation of implicit and explicit knowledge of the learned material is unclear. In the present study, we investigated the role that attention plays in the acquisition of non-adjacent rule learning from speech. In addition, we also tested whether the amount of attention during learning changes the representation of the learned material after a 24 h delay containing sleep. For that, we developed an experiment run on two consecutive days consisting on the exposure to an artificial language that contained non-adjacent dependencies (rules) between words whereas different conditions were established to manipulate the amount of attention given to the rules (target and non-target conditions). Furthermore, we used both indirect and direct measures of learning that are more sensitive to implicit and explicit knowledge, respectively. Whereas the indirect measures indicated that learning of the rules occurred regardless of attention, more explicit judgments after learning showed differences in the type of learning reached under the two attention conditions. 24 hours later, indirect measures showed no further improvements during additional language exposure and explicit judgments indicated that only the information more robustly learned in the previous day, was consolidated.
López-Barroso, D., Cucurell, D., Rodríguez-Fornells, A., & de Diego-Balaguer, R. (2016). Attentional effects on rule extraction and consolidation from speech. Cognition, 152, 61–69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.03.016