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      Knowledge applied to new domains: The unconscious succeeds where the conscious fails

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      Consciousness and Cognition
      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          A common view holds that consciousness is needed for knowledge acquired in one domain to be applied in a novel domain. We present evidence for the opposite; where the transfer of knowledge is achieved only in the absence of conscious awareness. Knowledge of artificial grammars was examined where training and testing occurred in different vocabularies or modalities. In all conditions grammaticality judgments attributed to random selection showed above-chance accuracy (60%), while those attributed to conscious decisions did not. Participants also rated each string's familiarity and performed a perceptual task assessing fluency. Familiarity was predicted by repetition structure and was thus related to grammaticality. Fluency, though increasing familiarity, was unrelated to grammaticality. While familiarity predicted all judgments only those attributed to random selection showed a significant additional contribution of grammaticality, deriving primarily from chunk novelty. In knowledge transfer, as in visual perception (Marcel, 1993), the unconscious may outperform the conscious.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Consciousness and Cognition
          Consciousness and Cognition
          Elsevier BV
          10538100
          March 2010
          March 2010
          : 19
          : 1
          : 391-398
          Article
          10.1016/j.concog.2009.11.009
          5f22d365-d9a0-44d6-a613-e7a52dc2cefe
          © 2010

          https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/

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