Working memory affects anticipatory behavior during implicit pattern learning

Srdan Medimorec, Petar Milin, Dagmar Divjak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
156 Downloads (Pure)


We investigated the relation between implicit sequence learning and individual differences in working memory (WM) capacity. Participants performed an oculomotor version of the serial reaction time (SRT) task and three computerized WM tasks. Implicit learning was measured using anticipation measures only, as they represent strong indicators of learning. Our results demonstrate that anticipatory behavior in the SRT task changes as a function of WM capacity, such that it increases with decreased WM capacity. On the other hand, WM capacity did not affect the overall number of correct anticipations in the task. In addition, we report a positive relation between WM capacity and the number of consecutive correct anticipations (or chunks), and a negative relation between WM capacity and the overall number of errors, indicating different learning strategies during implicit sequence learning. The results of the current study are theoretically important, because they demonstrate that individual differences in WM capacity could account for differences in learning processes, and ultimately change individuals' anticipatory behavior, even when learning is implicit, without intention and awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-301
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number1
Early online date27 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award (RL-2016-001) to D. Divjak, which funded all authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition/physiology
  • Eye Movements/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Learning/physiology
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term/physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual/physiology
  • Reaction Time/physiology
  • Young Adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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