Procedural learning during declarative control

Matthew J. Crossley*, F. Gregory Ashby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


There is now abundant evidence that human learning and memory are governed by multiple systems. As a result, research is now turning to the next question of how these putative systems interact. For instance, how is overall control of behavior coordinated, and does learning occur independently within systems regardless of what system is in control? Behavioral, neuroimaging, and neuroscience data are somewhat mixed with respect to these questions. Human neuroimaging and animal lesion studies suggest independent learning and are mostly agnostic with respect to control. Human behavioral studies suggest active inhibition of behavioral output but have little to say regarding learning. The results of two perceptual category-learning experiments are described that strongly suggest that procedural learning does occur while the explicit system is in control of behavior and that this learning might be just as good as if the procedural system was controlling the response. These results are consistent with the idea that declarative memory systems inhibit the ability of the procedural system to access motor output systems but do not prevent procedural learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1388-1403
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • procedural memory
  • declarative memory
  • multiple memory systems
  • system interaction
  • category learning


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