Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Patients with anterograde amnesia are commonly believed to exhibit normal implicit learning. Research with the serial reaction time (SRT) task suggests that normal subjects can implicitly learn visuospatial sequences through a process that is sensitive to higher-order information that is more complex than pairwise associations between adjacent stimuli. The present research reexamined SRT learning in a group of amnesic patients with a design intended to specifically address the learning of higher-order information. Despite seemingly normal learning effects on average, the results suggest that amnesic patients do not learn higher-order information as well as control subjects. These results suggest that amnesic patients have an associative learning impairment, even when learning is implicit, and that the medial temporal lobe and/or diencephalic brain areas typically damaged in cases of amnesia normally contribute to implicit sequence learning.