Intact memory for implicit contextual information in Korsakoff's amnesia

Erik Oudman*, Stefan Van der Stigchel, Arie J. Wester, Roy P. C. Kessels, Albert Postma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Implicit contextual learning is the ability to acquire contextual information from our surroundings without conscious awareness. Such contextual information facilitates the localization of objects in space. In a typical implicit contextual learning paradigm, subjects need to find a target among a number of distractors during visual search. Some of the configurations of stimuli are repeated during the experiment resulting in faster responses than for novel configurations, without subjects being aware of their repetition. Patients with Korsakoff's syndrome (KS) have been found to show devastating explicit spatial amnesia. Less is know about their implicit spatial memory abilities. The aim of the present research was to examine whether implicit contextual learning is intact in KS. Therefore, eighteen KS patients and twenty-two age-IQ- and education-matched controls performed the Implicit Contextual Learning task and a paradigm intended to assess explicit, spatial working memory, i.e. the Box task. Intact implicit contextual learning was observed in both the control group and the KS patients. In turn KS patients did have markedly lower explicit spatial working memory scores. The implicit learning effect was not related to the spatial working memory scores. Together these results clearly suggest that implicit and explicit spatial memory have a different neurocognitive basis. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2848-2855
Number of pages8
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2011


  • Memory
  • Implicit learning
  • Implicit contextual cueing
  • Procedural learning
  • Korsakoff's syndrome
  • Spatial
  • TASK

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