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      Deferred feedback sharply dissociates implicit and explicit category learning.

      Psychological Science

      Adult, Association Learning, physiology, Concept Formation, Feedback, Psychological, Humans, Reinforcement (Psychology), Young Adult

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          Abstract

          The controversy over multiple category-learning systems is reminiscent of the controversy over multiple memory systems. Researchers continue to seek paradigms to sharply dissociate explicit category-learning processes (featuring category rules that can be verbalized) from implicit category-learning processes (featuring learned stimulus-response associations that lie outside declarative cognition). We contribute a new dissociative paradigm, adapting the technique of deferred-rearranged reinforcement from comparative psychology. Participants learned matched category tasks that had either a one-dimensional, rule-based solution or a multidimensional, information-integration solution. They received feedback either immediately or after each block of trials, with the feedback organized such that positive outcomes were grouped and negative outcomes were grouped (deferred-rearranged reinforcement). Deferred reinforcement qualitatively eliminated implicit, information-integration category learning. It left intact explicit, rule-based category learning. Moreover, implicit-category learners facing deferred-rearranged reinforcement turned by default and information-processing necessity to rule-based strategies that poorly suited their nominal category task. The results represent one of the strongest explicit-implicit dissociations yet seen in the categorization literature.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          10.1177/0956797613509112
          3946254
          24335605

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