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  The effects of ordinal load on incidental temporal learning

Silva, S., Petersson, K. M., & Castro, S. L. (2017). The effects of ordinal load on incidental temporal learning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70(4), 664-674. doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1146909.

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Silva, Susana1, Author
Petersson, Karl Magnus2, 3, 4, Author              
Castro, São Luís1, Author
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1University of Porto, Porto, Portugal, ou_persistent22              
2Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society, ou_792551              
3University of Faro, Faro, Portugal, ou_persistent22              
4Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations, ou_55236              

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 Abstract: How can we grasp the temporal structure of events? A few studies have indicated that representations of temporal structure are acquired when there is an intention to learn, but not when learning is incidental. Response-to-stimulus intervals, uncorrelated temporal structures, unpredictable ordinal information, and lack of metrical organization have been pointed out as key obstacles to incidental temporal learning, but the literature includes piecemeal demonstrations of learning under all these circumstances. We suggest that the unacknowledged effects of ordinal load may help reconcile these conflicting findings, ordinal load referring to the cost of identifying the sequence of events (e.g., tones, locations) where a temporal pattern is embedded. In a first experiment, we manipulated ordinal load into simple and complex levels. Participants learned ordinal-simple sequences, despite their uncorrelated temporal structure and lack of metrical organization. They did not learn ordinal-complex sequences, even though there were no response-to-stimulus intervals nor unpredictable ordinal information. In a second experiment, we probed learning of ordinal-complex sequences with strong metrical organization, and again there was no learning. We conclude that ordinal load is a key obstacle to incidental temporal learning. Further analyses showed that the effect of ordinal load is to mask the expression of temporal knowledge, rather than to prevent learning.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 20162017
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1146909
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Title: Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Source Genre: Journal
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: 70 (4) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 664 - 674 Identifier: -