The time course of explicit and implicit categorization

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2015 Oct;77(7):2476-90. doi: 10.3758/s13414-015-0933-2.


Contemporary theory in cognitive neuroscience distinguishes, among the processes and utilities that serve categorization, explicit and implicit systems of category learning that learn, respectively, category rules by active hypothesis testing or adaptive behaviors by association and reinforcement. Little is known about the time course of categorization within these systems. Accordingly, the present experiments contrasted tasks that fostered explicit categorization (because they had a one-dimensional, rule-based solution) or implicit categorization (because they had a two-dimensional, information-integration solution). In Experiment 1, participants learned categories under unspeeded or speeded conditions. In Experiment 2, they applied previously trained category knowledge under unspeeded or speeded conditions. Speeded conditions selectively impaired implicit category learning and implicit mature categorization. These results illuminate the processing dynamics of explicit/implicit categorization.

Keywords: Category learning; Cognitive neuroscience; Explicit cognition; Implicit cognition; Response deadlines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Concept Formation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Young Adult