, Volume 69, Issue 5-6, pp 352-368
Date: 26 Apr 2005

Sequence learning under dual-task conditions: alternatives to a resource-based account

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In two experiments with the serial reaction-time task, participants were presented with deterministic or probabilistic sequences under single- or dual-task conditions. Experiment 1 showed that learning of a probabilistic structure was not impaired over a first session by performing a counting task, but that such an interference arose over a second session, when the knowledge was tested under single-task conditions. In contrast, the effects of the secondary task arose earlier for participants exposed to deterministic sequences. This difference between deterministic and probabilistic sequences disappeared in Experiment 2, where the counting task was performed on tones associated to the locations. Comparisons between sessions indicated that the secondary task affected not only the expression but also the acquisition of sequence learning, and that greater interference was observed in those conditions that yielded more explicit knowledge. These results suggest that the effects of a dual task on the measures of implicit sequence learning may be partly due to the intrusion of explicit knowledge and partly due to the disruption of the sequence produced by the inclusion of random events.