Implicit learning of temporal behavior in complex dynamic environments

Josh M. Salet*, Wouter Kruijne, Hedderik van Rijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic


To anticipate future events humans exploit predictive patterns in the environment. Such statistical learning is often outside of awareness. Timing research suggests that humans also adapt to temporal regularities. However, in these experiments, the intervals to be timed are isolated and explicitly cued, contrasting with everyday life where intervals are often unnoticed. In the present study, we found implicit adaptation to temporal regularities in an ecological setting. Ninety-eight participants played a game in which they responded to sudden-onset targets. While two targets appeared at random times, one target appeared every three seconds. In two experiments, we found adaptation to the regularity: Response times were lower, hit rates higher, and mouse cursor trajectories revealed anticipatory movements. Crucially, this was observed when participants were informed about the regularity, but also when they were unaware of it. Here, we for the first time, show implicit learning of temporal behavior in a complex environment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23-Dec-2020


  • Implicit Memory
  • Prediction
  • Reaction Time
  • Rhythm
  • Time Perception

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