Towards an explicit account of implicit learning
Forkstam, C., & Petersson, K. M.
Towards an explicit account of implicit learning. Current Opinion in Neurology, 18
Purpose of review: The human brain supports acquisition mechanisms that can extract structural regularities implicitly from experience without the induction of an explicit model. Reber defined the process by which an individual comes to respond appropriately to the statistical structure of the input ensemble as implicit learning. He argued that the capacity to generalize to new input is based on the acquisition of abstract representations that reflect underlying structural regularities in the acquisition input. We focus this review of the implicit learning literature on studies published during 2004 and 2005. We will not review studies of repetition priming ('implicit memory'). Instead we focus on two commonly used experimental paradigms: the serial reaction time task and artificial grammar learning. Previous comprehensive reviews can be found in Seger's 1994 article and the Handbook of Implicit Learning. Recent findings: Emerging themes include the interaction between implicit and explicit processes, the role of the medial temporal lobe, developmental aspects of implicit learning, age-dependence, the role of sleep and consolidation. Summary: The attempts to characterize the interaction between implicit and explicit learning are promising although not well understood. The same can be said about the role of sleep and consolidation. Despite the fact that lesion studies have relatively consistently suggested that the medial temporal lobe memory system is not necessary for implicit learning, a number of functional magnetic resonance studies have reported medial temporal lobe activation in implicit learning. This issue merits further research. Finally, the clinical relevance of implicit learning remains to be determined.