Context dependent learning in the serial RT task

Elger L Abrahamse, Willem B Verwey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This study investigated the development of contextual dependencies for sequential perceptual-motor learning on static features in the learning environment. In three experiments we assessed the effect of manipulating task irrelevant static context features in a serial reaction-time task. Experiment 1 demonstrated impaired performance after simultaneously changing display color, placeholder shape, and placeholder location. Experiment 2 showed that this effect was mainly caused by changing placeholder shape. Finally, Experiment 3 indicated that changing context affected both the application of sequence knowledge and the selection of individual responses. It is proposed either that incidental stimulus features are integrated with a global sequence representation, or that the changed context causes participants to strategically inhibit sequence skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-404
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Research = Psychologische Forschung: An international journal of perception, learning and communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Association Learning
  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Color Perception
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Orientation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Serial Learning


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