Is physical practice necessary for parallel development of implicit and explicit sequence knowledge? Evidence from observational learning
Zihlman, Kirk A.
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The present experiment evaluated Willingham & Goedert-Eschmann??s proposal (1999) that physical practice is required to support the parallel activation of explicit and implicit systems during practice of an SRT task. Individuals either physically executed or observed an individual producing a repeating 12-element sequence. Models and observers were provided with explicit information regarding the sequence or were uninformed. Congruent with previous findings, providing explicit instructions resulted in a significant decrease in response times to sequenced stimuli during acquisition. Individuals who physically performed the sequences during practice exhibited performance during direct and indirect tests consistent with parallel activation of both the explicit and implicit systems. Unexpectedly, performance on the indirect test for the observers that revealed explicit learning was similar to that reported for the model, indicating parallel activation also occurred during observation. This finding addresses some of the predictions made by Willingham??s COBALT (1998). Furthermore, a subset of observers revealed no explicit knowledge of the 12-element sequence but performed well on the indirect test. Learning via the implicit system during observation is congruent with recent behavioral data of Bird and colleagues (2005).