Memory & Cognition

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 326-333

First online:

The representation of explicit motor sequence knowledge

  • Robert KneeAffiliated withUniversity of Virginia
  • , Sean ThomasonAffiliated withUniversity of Virginia
  • , James AsheAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute
  • , Daniel T. WillinghamAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Virginia Email author 


Much research has investigated the representation of implicitly learned motor sequences: Do subjects learn sequences of stimuli, responses, response locations, or some combination? Most of the work on this subject indicates that when sequences are learned implicitly, it is in terms of response locations. The present work investigated the representation of explicitly learned motor sequences. In four experiments, we found consistent evidence that explicitly learned sequences are represented in terms of stimulus locations. This conclusion held true for both self-report measures (subjects said that they learned stimuli) and performance measures, but when stimuli changed, performance degraded. We interpret these data in a multiple-memory-systems framework.