IMPLICIT LEARNING: History and applications

Paul J. Reber, Laura J. Batterink, Kelsey R. Thompson, Ben Reuveni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


The history of research on implicit learning has been driven primarily by studies using specialized laboratory tasks that are designed to isolate our ability to extract statistical structure from experience, outside of awareness of what is learned. This empirical approach has been fruitful and necessary to establish implicit learning phenomena. It has allowed for systematic characterization of the mechanisms and neural systems that are the basis of this type of memory. However, the question of how pervasive implicit learning is in our everyday human experience is not directly addressed by this laboratory-based approach. The fact that implicit learning does not leave a conscious memory trace runs the risk of it being overlooked as an important component of complex cognition. Here, applications of implicit learning in three established research domains are briefly reviewed as examples of phenomena that appear to be driven by knowledge outside of consciousness. This review will show how this type of memory plays important roles in domains as diverse as language-learning, skill-acquisition, and decision-making processes. The principles extracted from implicit learning research can provide important theoretical contributions to these other domains and point towards the importance of examining relatively unexplored questions about the nature and processes involved in interactions between memory systems in complex cognitive processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationImplicit Learning
Subtitle of host publication50 Years on
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781317242437
ISBN (Print)9781138644298
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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