Abstract

Objective: At present, no reliable implicit learning (IL) measure exists for use in the clinical setting, though recent evidence suggests that IL can predict differences between neuropsychiatrically typical and atypical individuals in regard to certain cognitive abilities (e.g., syntactic comprehension, knowledge of social conventions). In the present studies, we designed a game-like adaptation of a paradigmatic IL task (Serial Response Time Task; SRTT) with the goal of creating a short, motivating, and practical clinical tool to be used with various populations. An initial study explored the learning characteristics demonstrated by the task, and a second sought to replicate the findings on a tablet computer. Method: Participants in the initial study (N = 7) completed the SRTT on a 17” touchscreen monitor. Participants in the second (N = 41) completed the SRTT on a 10” tablet. All participants were young adults comprised of undergraduate and graduate students. Results: Mixed effects modeling of both experiments revealed that reliable individual differences in IL are observed during both the monitor and tablet versions of the task. However, across versions, arm movement about the screen was found to significantly impact the results and thus the clarity of the IL measure. Conclusion(s): This task is promising given it is a substantially shorter task than those typically used in the experimental literature (4 minutes vs. 30) yet, is nevertheless able to detect reliable individual differences despite confounds. Several modifications to the task are recommended. Development of such computerized tablet based tasks could allow for rapid and automated screening for implicit learning deficits.