An Acute Stressor Enhances Striatal-based Implicit Learning
Stress has widespread effects on cognitive processes such as memory and learning. Studies show that in response to stress, animals and humans often switch from hippocampal-based spatial learning strategies to striatal-based stimulus-response learning strategies. While there is evidence that performance on striatal-based tasks is not impaired by stress, and in fact, may be optimal under stress compared to other strategies, no studies have examined how stress affects implicit learning, specifically tasks that rely on the striatum. In this study, we used the Triplets Learning Task (TLT) to examine the effects of stress on implicit learning. The TLT is an implicit sequence learning task in which participants respond more quickly and accurately to events that occur with high compared to low predictability without being aware that learning is taking place. In the TLT, young adults rely on the striatum for learning, which makes this an ideal task to investigate the effects of stress on implicit learning. To induce stress, we used the cold pressor test (CPT), which causes a physiological stress response similar to that of a mild daily stressor. Twenty-five young adults were randomly assigned to either the Control group (n=13) or the Stress group (n=12). There was a significant Triplet type (High vs. Low predictability) x Condition (Control vs. Stress) interaction (p = 0.025) for accuracy, such that participants in the Stress group learned more than Controls. These findings indicate that, in response to stress, striatal-based implicit sequence learning in young adults is enhanced.
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Implicit and explicit language learning : conditions, processes, and knowledge in SLA and bilingualism Sanz, Cristina; Leow, Ronald P. (Ronald Philip), 1954- (Washington, DC : Georgetown University Press, 2011)Over the last several decades, neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and psycholinguists have investigated the implicit and explicit continuum in language development and use from theoretical, empirical, and methodological ...