Implicit Memory and Metacognition

By Lynne M. Reder | Go to book overview

the serial memory literature). Thus, location X in the Hit-Key production would appear in a number of declarative chunks, encoding the various subsequences in which it had occurred. The sequence chunks that repeated more often would be stronger and provide more priming activation to X and hence speed up the matching of the last production presented. The subject need not be aware of these statistical relationships, but the memory system is and uses them to prime the relevant knowledge. Thus, this is just another case of implicit memory being carried by strengths of association and activation levels.


CONCLUSIONS

These chapters illustrate the extent to which cognitive choices are sensitive to things that we have no ability to report. They present theoretical perspectives in which such implicit metacognition is very natural, which is quite different than what has been the standard assumption in the field. Basically, humans are highly sensitive to the statistical structure of their environment, which enables them to predict profitable courses of action. The last 20 years of research on animal learning has demonstrated similar statistical sensitivities (see Anderson, 1995, for a review). Given that nonverbal creatures have such abilities, we should hardly be surprised to find these abilities implicit in humans. What is more surprising is that there are cases of metacognition which are not implicit but for which there is conscious awareness. Indeed, as noted with respect to the Lewis and Anderson study of geometry discussed earlier, there are cases where subjects display sensitivity only when they can describe the relevant aspects of the environment. In the introduction I tried to suggest that cases of such "reportable" cognition might reflect situations where the knowledge is critical to education. It is not clear that this hypothesis covers all of the cases (indeed, I am not sure how it extends to the Lewis and Anderson experiment). More attention needs to be given to exactly what cognitive processes we can report and how we can manage to report these. Why is the glass half full?


REFERENCES

Anderson J. R. ( 1983). The architecture of cognition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Anderson J. R. ( 1993). Rules of the mind. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Anderson J. R. ( 1995). Learning and memory. New York: Wiley.

Anderson J. R., & Schooler L. J. ( 1991). "Reflections of the environment in memory". Psychological Science, 2, 396-408.

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