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Perceiving structure in unstructured stimuli: implicitly acquired prior knowledge impacts the processing of unpredictable transitional probabilities

Perceiving structure in unstructured stimuli: implicitly acquired prior knowledge impacts the processing of unpredictable transitional probabilities

Kobor, Andrea, Horvath, Kata, Kardos, Zsofia, Nemeth, Dezso and Janacsek, Karolina ORCID: 0000-0001-7829-8220 (2020) Perceiving structure in unstructured stimuli: implicitly acquired prior knowledge impacts the processing of unpredictable transitional probabilities. Cognition, 205:104413. ISSN 0010-0277 (doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104413)

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Abstract

It is unclear how implicit prior knowledge is involved and remains persistent in the extraction of the statistical structure underlying sensory input. Therefore, this study investigated whether the implicit knowledge of second-order transitional probabilities characterizing a stream of visual stimuli impacts the processing of unpredictable transitional probabilities embedded in a similar input stream. Young adults (N = 50) performed a four-choice reaction time (RT) task that consisted of structured and unstructured blocks. In the structured blocks, more probable and less probable short-range nonadjacent transitional probabilities were present. In the unstructured blocks, the unique combinations of the short-range transitional probabilities occurred with equal probability; therefore, they were unpredictable. All task blocks were visually identical at the surface level. While one-half of the participants completed the structured blocks first followed by the unstructured blocks, this was reversed in the other half of them. The change in the structure was not explicitly denoted, and no feedback was provided on the correctness of each response. Participants completing the structured blocks first showed faster RTs to more probable than to less probable short-range transitional probabilities in both the structured and unstructured blocks, indicating the persistent effect of prior knowledge. However, after extended exposure to the unstructured blocks, they updated this prior knowledge. Participants completing the unstructured blocks first showed the RT difference only in the structured blocks, which was not constrained by the preceding exposure to unpredictable stimuli. The results altogether suggest that implicitly acquired prior knowledge of predictable stimuli influences the processing of subsequent unpredictable stimuli. Updating this prior knowledge seems to require a longer stretch of time than its initial acquisition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: implicit statistical learning, persistence, prior knowledge, randomness, transitional probabilities
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Institute for Lifecourse Development > Centre for Thinking and Learning
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 14:53
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/25765

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