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Disentangling perceptual from motor implicit sequence learning with a serial color-matching task.

F Gheysen, W Gevers, E De Schutter, H Van Waelvelde, W Fias

Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.

Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. 197:163-74 (2009)

Abstract - This paper contributes to the domain of implicit sequence learning by presenting a new version of the serial reaction time (SRT) task that allows unambiguously separating perceptual from motor learning. Participants matched the colors of three small squares with the color of a subsequently presented large target square. An identical sequential structure was tied to the colors of the target square (perceptual version, Experiment 1) or to the manual responses (motor version, Experiment 2). Short blocks of sequenced and randomized trials alternated and hence provided a continuous monitoring of the learning process. Reaction time measurements demonstrated clear evidence of independently learning perceptual and motor serial information, though revealed different time courses between both learning processes. No explicit awareness of the serial structure was needed for either of the two types of learning to occur. The paradigm introduced in this paper evidenced that perceptual learning can occur with SRT measurements and opens important perspectives for future imaging studies to answer the ongoing question, which brain areas are involved in the implicit learning of modality specific (motor vs. perceptual) or general serial order.

PMID: 19562328 [PubMed]