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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  3. The environment provides multiple regularities that might be useful in guiding behavior if one was able to learn their structure. Understanding statistical learning across simultaneous regularities is important, but poorly understood. We investigate learning across two domains: visuomotor sequence learning through the serial reaction time (SRT) task, and incidental auditory category learning via the systematic multimodal association reaction time (SMART) task. Several commonalities raise the possibility that these two learning phenomena may draw on common cognitive resources and neural networks. In each, participants are unin- formed of the regularities that they come to use to guide actions, the outcomes of which may provide a form of internal feedback. We used dual-task conditions to compare learning of the regularities in isolation versus when they are simultaneously available to support behavior on a seemingly orthogonal visuomotor task. Learning occurred across the simultaneous regularities, without attenuation even when the informational value of a regularity was reduced by the presence of the additional, convergent regularity. Thus, the simultaneous regularities do not compete for associative strength, as in overshadowing effects. Moreover, the visuomotor sequence learning and incidental auditory category learning do not appear to compete for common cognitive resources; learning across the simultaneous regularities wasmore »comparable to learning each regularity in isolation.« less
  4. Category learning is fundamental to cognition, but little is known about how it proceeds in real-world environments when learners do not have instructions to search for category-relevant information, do not make overt category decisions, and do not experience direct feedback. Prior research demonstrates that listeners can acquire task-irrelevant auditory categories incidentally as they engage in primarily visuomotor tasks. The current study examines the factors that support this incidental category learning. Three experiments systematically manipulated the relationship of four novel auditory categories with a consistent visual feature (color or location) that informed a simple behavioral keypress response regarding the visual feature. In both an in-person experiment and two online replications with extensions, incidental auditory category learning occurred reliably when category exemplars consistently aligned with visuomotor demands of the primary task, but not when they were misaligned. The presence of an additional irrelevant visual feature that was uncorrelated with the primary task demands neither enhanced nor harmed incidental learning. By contrast, incidental learning did not occur when auditory categories were aligned consistently with one visual feature, but the motor response in the primary task was aligned with another, category-unaligned visual feature. Moreover, category learning did not reliably occur across passive observation ormore »when participants made a category-nonspecific, generic motor response. These findings show that incidental learning of categories is strongly mediated by the character of coincident behavior.« less