Attention and Pattern Consciousness Reorganize the Cortical Topography of Event-Related Potential Correlates of Visual Sequential Learning.

Abstract

Sequential learning (SL) involves comprehension of predictive environmental patterns. Controversially, (Daltrozzo & Conway, 2014) SL is thought to occur without attention or pattern consciousness (PC, or explicit knowledge) and thus is often deemed as implicit. We examined the role of selective attention and PC in visual SL using event-related potentials (ERP) with healthy adults. We measured selective attention in thirty-four participants (27 females, 18-49 years) with a Flanker task, followed by a SL task (while recording ERPs) and a questionnaire to measure PC. The SL task prompted participants to indicate target occurrence within a sequence of on-screen stimuli. Participants were unaware of two-predictor items in the sequence or that they predicted target occurrence with high/low probability. Results indicated that higher attention was related to left-lateralization of SL ERP effects under low PC and more rostral left-lateralized effects under higher PC. These neural findings suggest that attention and PC modulate SL.


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