The problem we examined involves the process of selective attention and its relationship with implicit and explicit memory encoding. One task that has been used previously to examine selective attention is the flankers task, which consists of three items with the center item being the item that requires a response - the target. The two items on either side of the target are the “irrelevant” flankers. The correlated flanker effect is the difference in reaction time between the trials in which the flankers that are correlated with the correct response are present (congruent) and trials in which the flankers correlated with the opposite response are present (incongruent). Participants are about 30ms faster to respond on congruent trials than incongruent trials (Miller, 1987). The current study sought to further understand the mechanisms behind this selective attention task by asking, is incidental (implicit) learning of irrelevant information encoded in memory differently than intentional (explicit) learning? Participants completed a correlated flankers task. Half the participants were told to expect a memory task for the flankers and half were not given warning. Participants also completed an implicit memory task and an explicit memory questionnaire. Response times (RT) on congruent correlation trials and on incongruent correlation trials were measured. In the implicit memory task, participants’ responding to neutral targets surrounded by previously shown flankers was measured. We hypothesized that the greater recall of the irrelevant information in the implicit task over the explicit task. Results demonstrated no presence of the flanker effect yet participants were significantly more accurate than chance on the implicit task but not the explicit task.
Sullivan, Jaclynn V., "Implicit Encoding Explored Through the Flankers Task" (2012). Honors Projects. 152.