One-back reinforcement dissociates implicit-procedural and explicit-declarative category learning

One-back reinforcement dissociates implicit-procedural and explicit-declarative category learning

Published in: Memory & Cognition, Volume 46, Issue 2, 261-273

“The debate over unitary/multiple category-learning utilities is reminiscent of debates about multiple memory systems and unitary/dual codes in knowledge representation. In categorization, researchers continue to seek paradigms to dissociate explicit learning processes (yielding verbalizable rules) from implicit learning processes (yielding stimulus–response associations that remain outside awareness). We introduce a new dissociation here. Participants learned matched category tasks with a multidimensional, information-integration solution or a one-dimensional, rule-based solution. They received reinforcement immediately (0-Back reinforcement) or after one intervening trial (1-Back reinforcement). Lagged reinforcement eliminated implicit, information-integration category learning but preserved explicit, rule-based learning. Moreover, information-integration learners facing lagged reinforcement spontaneously adopted explicit rule strategies that poorly suited their task. The results represent a strong process dissociation in categorization, broadening the range of empirical techniques for testing the multiple-process theoretical perspective. This and related methods that disable associative learning—fostering a transition to explicit-declarative cognition—could have broad utility in comparative, cognitive, and developmental science.”

Written by: J. David Smith, Sonia Jamani, Joseph Boomer, Barbara A. Church
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