Adaptive behaviour requires interaction between neurocognitive systems. Yet, the possibility of concurrent cognitive control and incidental sequence learning remains contentious. We designed an experimental procedure of cognitive conflict monitoring that follows a pre-defined sequence unknown to participants, in which either statistical or rule-based regularities were manipulated. We show that participants learnt the statistical differences in the sequence when stimulus conflict was high. Neurophysiological (EEG) analyses confirmed but also specified the behavioural results: the nature of conflict, the type of sequence learning, and the stage of information processing jointly determine whether cognitive conflict and sequence learning support or compete with each other. Especially statistical learning has the potential to modulate conflict monitoring. Cognitive conflict and incidental sequence learning can engage in cooperative fashion when behavioural adaptation is challenging. Three replication and follow-up experiments provide insights into the generalizability of these results and suggest that the interaction of learning and cognitive control is dependent on the multifactorial aspects of adapting to a dynamic environment. The study indicates that connecting the fields of cognitive control and incidental learning is advantageous to achieve a synergistic view of adaptive behaviour.
|Published - 27 Mar 2023
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neurophysiology, Cognition/physiology, Learning/physiology, Humans, Electroencephalography, Stroop Test, Analysis of Variance, Male, Female, Adult, Adaptation, Psychological