Implicit and Explicit Learning: Two Different Systems?

Amnesia, Implicit learning, Temporal lobe

Implicit and explicit learning: Two different systems?

Implicit and explicit learning methods have been empirically tested over many years and the debate still goes on, are they connected to one another or are they two separate systems? This essay aims to evaluate studies on both sides and come to a conclusion based on current research. Implicit learning was first defined as, how one develops intuitive knowledge about the underlying structure of a complex stimulus environment, without a conscious effort (Reber, 1967). This in Lehman’s terms is essentially unconscious learning, meaning that certain things are learned without our brain being actively used to learn them. Explicit learning on the other hand is defined by Mathers et al (1989) as being very similar to the conscious problem solving processes, this is because our brain attempts to form a mental representation of the task and searches memory for previous knowledge before testing mental models of task performance. Grant & Berg (1948) showed just how clear implicit learning is when they created the Wisconsin card-sorting test (WCST). The participants had to categorize cards but were not told how to categorize them, but only if it was right or wrong. After a few tries the participants were able to successfully match the cards to the right categories however when asked why they could not explain why they matched the card to that category, showing that this learning was done implicitly and is hard to explain how they came to that conclusion. A clear example of explicit learning is when a child is learning their math timetables because they are consciously participating in a new learning exercise. Cleeremans & Jiménez (2002) describes implicit-explicit learning as a continuum whereas Aizenstein et al (2004) suggests that different areas of the brain are active during different types of learning. As there are different types of learning, there are also different types of memory and learning and...
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