What we do and do not learn without trying

Useful line from Katharine’s last post:

…the conventions of written language, unlike those of spoken language, are not picked up incidentally by most native English speakers…

For some reason, I find the question of what we learn incidentally endlessly fascinating.

In my case, I actually did pick up most of the conventions of writing incidentally. I wrote by ear.

But how did I acquire an “ear”?

I’m sure my path to incidental learning of “school grammar” was obsessive reading. I was a bookworm: I read the backs of cereal boxes at the breakfast table; I read books when we had company; on vacation trips I read Agatha Christie mysteries as  my family walked along seeing the sights. [1/11/2020 – UPDATE: Had a conversation with Katharine yesterday re: learning to write without being taught to write. I’m not so sure now that obsessive reading was the ticket.]

At some point, I gained the ability to hear what I wrote.

Nevertheless, I would have been much better off if some teacher had sat me down and taught me the principles Katharine and I cover in Europe in the Modern World.

System 1 and System 2 compete

3/17/2020 UPDATE: No! They don’t compete! They cooperate! They are “dissociable,” but they don’t compete. more t/k

I’m putting this here so I won’t lose it again:

Dual-system models of visual category learning posit the existence of an explicit, hypothesis-testing reflective system, as well as an implicit, procedural-based reflexive system. The reflective and reflexive learning systems are competitive and neurally dissociable.

Chandrasekaran, B. et al.Dual-learning systems during speech category learning.” Psychonomic Bulletin Review, 2014 Apr 21, pp. 488-495.

re: 2 kinds of learning inside the brain

Compete,” as I understand the term, means that when one system is on, the other is off. Each system can suppress the other.

That’s the meaning I glean from the various studies I’ve read.

Dissociable” is an important term in cognitive science: it means that the two systems actually are two separate systems, not just two different aspects of the same fundamental process. The breakthrough study of “dual-system theory” in category learning was Smith et al’s study showing that when you experimentally disable one learning system, the other still functions.

The two systems can be “dissociated,” and are therefore two separate and dissociable systems, not one.

So I gather.

 

Laurel, meet Yanny

In case you’re wondering, I heard “Laurel.”

Then I walked across the room and heard Yanny.

Which reminds me: I need to spend some time at Phonetique. I haven’t done so because, unfortunately, they’ve got their exercises set up wrong for implicit learning

Implicit learning (“information integration” learning) requires immediate feedback. You can’t do 10 items then find out which ones you got wrong. You have to do one at a time and get the answer before you move on. 

Speaking of immediate feedback, this is the most important research on learning I’ve ever read.