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ERIC Number: EJ1049529
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Incidental Learning and Task Boundaries
Freedberg, Michael; Wagschal, Tana T.; Hazeltine, Eliot
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v40 n6 p1680-1700 Nov 2014
For skill learning processes to be effective, they must encode associations that are inherent to the current task and avoid those that are spurious or particular to training conditions so that learning can transfer to novel situations. Some everyday contexts even require grouped responding to simultaneously presented stimuli. Here we test whether learning of these grouped responses depends on overlap in stimulus and/or response modality or on the conceptualization of the stimulus and response streams as belonging to a common task. In the present experiments, participants made 2 responses to 2 simultaneously presented stimuli, and learning was assessed by comparing performance on response combinations that had been practiced throughout training to performance on combinations that had been withheld. Experiments 1-4 paired the same visual-manual task with a 2nd task that differed in terms of the stimulus modality, the response modality, neither modality, or both modalities. Combination-specific learning was only observed when both the stimulus and response modalities were the same for the 2 tasks. However, Experiments 5 and 6 showed that combination-specific learning could occur with nonoverlapping stimulus modalities or response modalities if the 2 tasks were conceptually related. The results suggest that task representations provide top-down constraints on skill learning processes.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Iowa
Grant or Contract Numbers: R03 DA031583-01A1