Chunking by colors: assessing discrete learning in a continuous serial reaction-time task

Luis Jiménez, Amavia Méndez, Antoine Pasquali, Elger Abrahamse, Willem Verwey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Chunk learning (the process by which a sequence is learned and retrieved from memory in smaller, decomposed units of information) has been postulated as the main learning mechanism underlying sequence learning (Perruchet & Pacton, 2006). However, the evidence for chunk formation has been elusive in the continuous serial reaction-time task, whereas other continuous, statistical processes of learning account well for the results observed in this task. This article proposes a new index to capture segmentation in learning, based on the variance of responding to different parts of a sequence. We assess the validity of this measure by comparing performance in a control group with that of another group in which color codes were used to induce a uniform segmentation. Results showed that evidence of chunking was obtained when the color codes were consistently coupled to responses, but that chunking was not maintained after the colors were removed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-29
Number of pages12
JournalActa Psychologica
Volume137
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Attention/physiology
  • Color Perception/physiology
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time/physiology
  • Serial Learning/physiology
  • Transfer, Psychology/physiology

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