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Errors, feedback and attentional load. Differential involvement of memory systems as a function of condition of learning

15 October 2009

PhD ceremony: F.J. Guzman Muñoz, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Errors, feedback and attentional load. Differential involvement of memory systems as a function of condition of learning

Promotor(s): prof. A. Johnson

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences


This thesis presents studies in support of the views of Bjork and colleagues (Bjork, 1994; Schmidt & Bjork, 1992): Manipulations that increase the difficulty of training might demand extra cognitive activity from the learner and promote additional processing of information that results in transferable knowledge. It is argued that the extra cognitive activity and additional information processing result from the involvement of two memory systems: Declarative memory, which represents information in terms of functional relations between elements of the learning episode and produces knowledge that is highly transferable; and non-declarative memory, which involves perceptual and motor information with no secondary processing added, and produces highly specific knowledge that lacks the flexibility of declarative memory representations.

In an experiment in map learning, making errors and receiving delayed overall feedback improved transfer performance and memory for relations. In an experiment in language acquisition, learning with a focus on meaning seemed to promote vocabulary acquisition and to involve non-declarative memory, whereas learning with a focus on form facilitated acquisition of grammatical rules and involved declarative memory. Finally, an attentional load seemed to interfere with the workings of a processing system that involves attention and WMC. This interference seemed to affect especially the learning of associations that involve more than two stimuli. Assuming that one of the main characteristics of declarative memory is the capacity to encode relations between multiple elements of the learning situation (Eichenbaum & Cohen, 2001), it can be concluded that a secondary task disrupts processing through the declarative memory system.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.39 p.m.
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