Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 643–648

Attention modulates the learning of multiple contingencies

Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/BF03193975

Cite this article as:
Rowland, L.A. & Shanks, D.R. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2006) 13: 643. doi:10.3758/BF03193975


We employed a novel version of the serial reaction time task to test the idea that human implicit learning allows the simultaneous learning of multiple independent contingencies and that this learning may proceed in the absence of attention. Using probabilistic sequences, we showed that both a primary sequence (the focus of the experimental task) and a statistically independent secondary sequence could be learned across 4,800 target localization trials, provided the perceptual load of the primary task was low. However, learning of the secondary sequence was abolished under conditions of high perceptual load. These findings suggest that there are attentional limitations on the learning of multiple contingencies.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College LondonLondonEngland
  2. 2.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordEngland

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