Role of Implicit and Explicit Processes in Learning From Examples: A Synergistic Effect

Robert C. Mathews, Ray R. Buss, William B. Stanley, Fredda Blanchard-Fields, Jeung Ryeul Cho, Barry Druhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

303 Scopus citations


Four experiments are reported in which subjects gained extensive experience with artificial grammars in explicit and implicit processing tasks. Results indicated that (a) implicit processing was sufficient for learning a finite state grammar but was inadequate for learning another type of grammar based on logical rules. (b) Subjects were able to communicate some of their implicit knowledge of the grammars to another person. (c) Consistent with rule induction but not memory array models of learning, verbal protocols indicated there was no tendency to converge on the same set of cues used to identify valid strings. (d) A synergistic learning effect occurred when both implicit and explicit processing tasks were used in the grammar based on logical rules but not in the finite state grammar. A theoretical framework is proposed in which implicit learning is conceptualized as an automatic, memory-based mechanism for detecting patterns of family resemblance among exemplars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1100
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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