Explicit learning of arbitrary and non-arbitrary action-effect relations in adults and 4-year-olds
Author(s)Stephan Alexander eVerschoor
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AbstractIdeomotor theories claim that carrying out a movement that produces a perceivable effect creates a bidirectional association between the two, which can be used by action control processes to retrieve the associated action by anticipating its outcome. Indeed, previous implicit-learning studies have shown that practice renders novel but action-contingent stimuli effective retrieval cues of the action they used to follow, suggesting that experiencing sequences of actions and effects creates bidirectional action-effect associations. We investigated whether action-effect associations are also acquired under explicit-learning conditions and whether familiar action-effect relations (such as between a trumpet and a trumpet sound) are learned the same way as novel, arbitrary relations are. We also investigated whether these factors affect adults and 4-year-old children equally. Our findings suggest that explicit learning produces the same bidirectional action-effect associations as implicit learning does, that non-arbitrary relations improve performance without affecting learning per se, and that adults and young children show equivalent performance—apart from the common observation that children have greater difficulty to withstand stimulus-induced action tendencies.