ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (9): 965-974.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00965

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Is implicit knowledge abstract? Evidence from implicit sequence learning transfer

Hui DAI1,Chuanlin ZHU2,Dianzhi LIU2()   

  1. 1 Student Affairs Office, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing 210000, China
    2 School of Education, Soochow University, Suzhou 215000, China
  • Received:2017-06-02 Published:2018-09-15 Online:2018-07-27
  • Supported by:


Studies have shown that whether implicit knowledge is abstract is still under dispute, and transfer is an effective way to test this. The present study was designed to investigate transfer of implicit sequence knowledge under five different RSI conditions, to explore the status of consciousness underlying transfer, and then to prove the abstractness of implicit knowledge.
Ninety volunteers (college students) were randomly assigned to five experimental groups. Twelve randomly selected college students were assigned to the control group. A classic implicit sequence learning task was adopted. Participants were required to press a key corresponding to the spatial location of the dark dot as quickly and accurately as possible. Each experimental group completed this task under one of five RSI conditions (0 ms, 250 ms, 500 ms, 750 ms, and 1000 ms). The task included a training and a transfer phase. In both phases, the spatial location arrangement for the sequence of dots followed the second-order conditional rule, but differed slightly. The control group did not undergo the training phase and were tested directly during the transfer phase, with the procedure being similar to that of its matched experimental group. Pure and novelty-influenced learning magnitude, two different indexes of implicit learning magnitude, were adopted. Similarly, two different indexes of implicit transfer magnitude, pure and novelty-influenced, were adopted.
The results showed: (1) By using a transfer design changed first-order structure, we found that the migration occurs with the increase of RSI, which proves that the implicit knowledge is abstract. (2) Implicit sequence learning is a necessary condition for migration learning. The novelty stimulus promotes implicit learning and transfer, and the effect is more obvious when RSI is small. (3) Moreover, in this study, a special type of fringe consciousness was found (RSI = 500 ms, 750 ms, 1000 ms), in which people can transfer knowledge that has cognitive flexibility and availability, but they cannot orally report the specific rules.
By using a transfer design changed first-order structure, this study proves that implicit knowledge is abstract under the fringe consciousness. Additionally, the effects of RSI、implicit sequence learning, and stimulus novelty on implicit learning and transfer were proved. This study provides abundant first-hand information to the field of implicit learning.

Key words: implicit knowledge, implicit sequence learning, transfer, RSI, fringe consciousness

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