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Implicit Learning of Arithmetic Regularities Is Facilitated by Proximal Contrast
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Author: Richard W. Prather

by Richard W. Prather

Natural number arithmetic is a simple, powerful and important symbolic system. Despite intense focus on learning in cognitive development and educational research many adults have weak knowledge of the system. In current study participants learn arithmetic principles via an implicit learning paradigm. Participants learn not by solving arithmetic equations, but through viewing and evaluating example equations, similar to the implicit learning of artificial grammars. We expand this to the symbolic arithmetic system. Specifically we find that exposure to principle-inconsistent examples facilitates the acquisition of arithmetic principle knowledge if the equations are presented to the learning in a temporally proximate fashion. The results expand on research of the implicit learning of regularities and suggest that contrasting cases, show to facilitate explicit arithmetic learning, is also relevant to implicit learning of arithmetic.