How Explicit and Implicit Test Instructions in an Implicit Learning Task Affect Performance

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Abstract

Typically developing children aged 5 to 8 years were exposed to artificial grammar learning. Following an implicit exposure phase, half of the participants received neutral instructions at test while the other half received instructions making a direct, explicit reference to the training phase. We first aimed to assess whether implicit learning operated in the two test conditions. We then evaluated the differential impact of age on learning performances as a function of test instructions. The results showed that performance did not vary as a function of age in the implicit instructions condition, while age effects emerged when explicit instructions were employed at test. However, performance was affected differently by age and the instructions given at test, depending on whether the implicit learning of short or long units was assessed. These results suggest that the claim that the implicit learning process is independent of age needs to be revised.

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Witt, A., Puspitawati, I., & Vinter, A. (2013). How Explicit and Implicit Test Instructions in an Implicit Learning Task Affect Performance. PLoS ONE, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0053296

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