The authors used a novel dual-component training procedure that combined a serial reaction time task and an artificial grammar learning task to investigate the role of instructional focus in incidental pattern learning. In Experiment 1, participants either memorized letter strings as a primary task and reacted to the stimuli locations as a secondary task or vice versa. In Experiment 2, participants were given the same dual-component stimuli but performed only one of the two training tasks. Instructional focus affected the amount of learning and the likelihood of acquiring explicit knowledge of the underlying pattern. However, the effect of instructional focus varied for the different types of stimuli. These results are discussed in terms of the role of focused attention in incidental learning.
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