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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 21 September 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00229

Statistical learning of two artificial languages presented successively: how conscious?

Ana Franco*, Axel Cleeremans and Arnaud Destrebecqz
  • Consciousness, Cognition, and Computation Group, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Bruxelles, Belgium

Statistical learning is assumed to occur automatically and implicitly, but little is known about the extent to which the representations acquired over training are available to conscious awareness. In this study, we focus on whether the knowledge acquired in a statistical learning situation is available to conscious control. Participants were first exposed to an artificial language presented auditorily. Immediately thereafter, they were exposed to a second artificial language. Both languages were composed of the same corpus of syllables and differed only in the transitional probabilities. We first determined that both languages were equally learnable (Experiment 1) and that participants could learn the two languages and differentiate between them (Experiment 2). Then, in Experiment 3, we used an adaptation of the Process-Dissociation Procedure (Jacoby, 1991) to explore whether participants could consciously manipulate the acquired knowledge. Results suggest that statistical information can be used to parse and differentiate between two different artificial languages, and that the resulting representations are available to conscious control.

Keywords: statistical learning, process-dissociation procedure, implicit learning, consciousness

Citation: Franco A, Cleeremans A and Destrebecqz A (2011) Statistical learning of two artificial languages presented successively: how conscious? Front. Psychology 2:229. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00229

Received: 03 March 2011; Accepted: 25 August 2011;
Published online: 21 September 2011.

Edited by:

Ping Li, Penn State University, USA

Reviewed by:

Gert Westermann, Oxford Brookes University, UK
Daniel J. Weiss, Penn State University, USA

Copyright: © 2011 Franco, Cleeremans and Destrebecqz. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Ana Franco, Consciousness, Cognition, and Computation Group, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CP 191, 50 Avenue F.-D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles, Belgium. e-mail: afranco@ulb.ac.be