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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 3/2019

26-09-2017 | Original Article

Implicit sequence learning despite multitasking: the role of across-task predictability

Auteurs: Eva Röttger, Hilde Haider, Fang Zhao, Robert Gaschler

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 3/2019

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Abstract

One often replicated finding is that implicit sequence learning is hampered in dual-task situations. Thus, one crucial question has been whether implicit learning processes require attentional resources. Meanwhile, focusing exclusively on limited attentional resources might be considered as too unspecific. Overall, the focus lies now rather on the possibility that the impairment is due to interference coming along with (a) task integration (e.g., Schmidtke and Heuer in Psychol Res 60(1–2):53–71, 1997)—or with (b) parallel response selection (Schumacher and Schwarb in J Exp Psychol Gen 138(2):270–290, 2009). Yet, other explanations have also been put forward—and there is still no agreement. Our goal here is to contribute to this debate by testing several constraints that have been suggested in the literature within one single paradigm, originating by Schumacher and Schwarb (J Exp Psychol Gen 138(2):270–290, 2009). Therefore, we paired the same visual-manual serial reaction time task (SRTT; Nissen and Bullemer in Cogn Psychol 19(1):1–32, 1987) with different auditory-vocal tone-discrimination tasks across seven dual-task conditions. We manipulated (a) its relation to the SRTT and/or (b) the difficulty of response selection. The results suggest that task integration is indeed a crucial factor for implicit sequence learning: since the tone-task is a potential source of noisy patterns of covariation in a complex arrangement of task components, sequence learning is disrupted. In line with Rah, Reber, and Hsiao (Psychon Bull Rev 7(2):309–313, 2000), the usefulness (in terms of sequence learning) of task integration seems to depend on the predictive value of across-task stimulus and/or response events.

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Voetnoten
1
In Experiment 2 (30% responses condition), we expanded our standard error criterion and additionally replaced the data of participants who responded to the wrong tone in more than 15% of the respective trials. We did this because a rate of 15% of this special kind of error already increases the amount of dual-task trials by one-third.
 
2
In the SRT task (9 blocks), 0.9/0.9/5.9% of the trials were classified as RT outliers and 2.1/1.7/7.2% of the trials were excluded due to errors in the spatial/arbitrary/single-task condition, respectively. In the tone-discrimination task (6 blocks), 0.1/0.1% of the trials were classified as RT outliers. In 14.9/17.5% of the trials the voice-key data in the spatial/arbitrary condition, respectively did not match the required response. As some trials also fulfilled multiple exclusion criteria, overall 12.2/13.7/8.0% of all trials were excluded.
 
3
In Experiment 1, 9 participants reported full/partial SRTT sequence knowledge. Full sequence knowledge was reported by 1 participant in the spatial condition and 3 participants in the single-task condition. Partial sequence knowledge was reported by 4 participants in the spatial condition and 1 participant in the arbitrary condition. When these 9 participants were excluded from the test blocks analysis, the pattern of results (RTs and error rates) remained unchanged.
 
4
In the SRT task (9 blocks), 0.8/0.3% of the trials were classified as RT outliers and 2.5/2.0% of the trials were excluded due to errors in the correlated-tasks/30% responses condition, respectively. In the tone-discrimination task (6 blocks), 0.2/0.1% of the trials were classified as RT outliers. In 14.2/9.7% of the trials the voice-key data in the correlated-tasks/30% responses condition, respectively did not match the required response. Additionally, 3.9% of the “no response” trials in the 30% responses condition were excluded because participants nevertheless responded to the (wrong) tone. As some trials also fulfilled multiple exclusion criteria, overall 12.0/5.7% of all trials were excluded.
 
5
In Experiment 2, 7 participants reported full/partial SRTT sequence knowledge. Full sequence knowledge was reported by 1 participant in the correlated-tasks condition. Partial sequence knowledge was reported by 4 participants in the correlated-tasks condition and 2 participants in the 30% responses condition. When these 7 participants were excluded from the test blocks analysis, the pattern of results (RTs and error rates) remained unchanged.
 
6
In the SRT task (9 blocks), 0.7/4.6% of the trials were classified as RT outliers and 2.5/6.1% of the trials were excluded due to errors in the ideomotor/listen-only condition, respectively. In the tone-discrimination task (6 blocks; ideomotor condition), 3.0% of the trials were classified as RT outliers. In 14.2% of the trials the voice-key data did not match the required response. As some trials also fulfilled multiple exclusion criteria, overall 12.2/6.7% of all trials in the ideomotor/listen-only condition, respectively were excluded.
 
7
In Experiment 3, 5 participants reported full/partial SRTT sequence knowledge. Full sequence knowledge was reported by 1 participant in the listen-only condition. Partial sequence knowledge was reported by 2 participants in the ideomotor condition and 2 participants in the listen-only condition. When these 5 participants were excluded from the test blocks analysis, the pattern of results (RTs and error rates) remained unchanged.
 
8
In the SRT task (9 blocks), 0.5% of the trials were classified as RT outliers and 2.3% of the trials were excluded due to errors. In the tone-discrimination task (6 blocks), 0.0% of the trials were classified as RT outliers. In 15.7% of the trials the voice-key data did not match the required response. As some trials also fulfilled multiple exclusion criteria, overall 12.8% of all trials were excluded.
 
9
In Experiment 4, no participant reported full/partial SRTT sequence knowledge. In our replication of Experiment 4 (see the discussion) with 10 new participants, one participant reported partial knowledge.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Implicit sequence learning despite multitasking: the role of across-task predictability
Auteurs
Eva Röttger
Hilde Haider
Fang Zhao
Robert Gaschler
Publicatiedatum
26-09-2017
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 3/2019
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0920-4