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The notion that sequential regularities can be learned implicitly without ensuing conscious knowledge has sparked off a prolific research program within cognitive psychology. However, there is continuing dissent among researchers about the very existence of the phenomenon. This is, at least in part, due to a failure to ground research on implicit sequence learning in conceptual definitions of “consciousness” and “conscious sequence knowledge.” In this article the authors take up a definition of consciousness according to which conscious mental contents are characterized by their global availability to cognitive processes (e.g., Baars in: A cognitive theory of consciousness Cambridge University Press, 1988; in: In the theater of consciousness: the workspace of the mind Oxford University Press, 1997). It is argued that unlike recognition tests or generate tasks, verbal report is a sensitive and specific measure of conscious (i.e., globally available) sequence knowledge. Finally, it is shown that the choice between two commonly used measures of conscious sequence knowledge can profoundly affect the outcome of a sequence learning experiment.
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- Defining consciousness in the context of incidental sequence learning: theoretical considerations and empirical implications
Peter A. Frensch