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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

March 1998, Vol. 10, No. 2, Pages 248-263
(doi: 10.1162/089892998562681)
© 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Encapsulation of Implicit and Explicit Memory in Sequence Learning
Article PDF (205.5 KB)

Contrasts between implicit and explicit knowledge in the serial reaction time (SRT) paradigm have been challenged because they have depended on a single dissociation: intact implicit knowledge in the absence of corresponding explicit knowledge. In the SRT task, subjects respond with a corresponding keypress to a cue that appears in one of four locations. The cue follows a repeating sequence of locations, and subjects can exhibit knowledge of the repeating sequence through increasingly rapid performance (an implicit test) or by being able to recognize the sequence (an explicit test). In our study, amnesic patients were given extensive SRT training. Their implicit and explicit test performance was compared to the performance of control subjects who memorized the training sequence. Compared with control subjects, amnesic patients exhibited superior performance on the implicit task and impaired performance on the explicit task. This crossover interaction suggests that implicit and explicit knowledge of the embedded sequence are separate and encapsulated and that they presumably depend on different brain systems.