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Learning from implicit learning literature: Comment on Shea, Wulf, Whitacre, and Park (2001)

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In their analysis of complex motor skill learning, Shea, Wulf, Whitacre, and Park (2001) have overlooked one of the most robust conclusions of the experimental studies on implicit learning conducted during the last decade--namely that participants usually learn things that are different from those that the experimenter expected them to learn. Weshow that the available literature on implicit learning strongly suggests that the improved performance in Shea et al.'s Experiments 1 and 2 (and similar earlier experiments, e.g., Wulf & Schmidt, 1997) was due to the exploitation of regularities in the target pattern different from those on which the postexperimental interview focused. This rules out the conclusions drawn from the failure of this interview to reveal any explicit knowledge about the task structure on the part of the participants. Similarly, because the information about the task structure provided to an instructed group of participants in Shea et al.'s Experiment 2 did not concern the regularities presumably exploited by the standard, so-called implicit, group, Shea et al.'s claim that explicit knowledge may be less effective than implicit knowledge is misleading.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724980244000657

Affiliations: University of Burgundy, Dijon, France

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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