Patients with anterograde amnesia are commonly believed to exhibit normal implicit learning. Research with the serial reaction time (SRT) task suggests that normal subjects can implicitly learn visuospatial sequences through a process that is sensitive to higher-order information that is more complex than pairwise associations between adjacent stimuli. The present research reexamined SRT learning in a group of amnesic patients with a design intended to specifically address the learning of higher-order information. Despite seemingly normal learning effects on average, the results suggest that amnesic patients do not learn higher-order information as well as control subjects. These results suggest that amnesic patients have an associative learning impairment, even when learning is implicit, and that the medial temporal lobe and/or diencephalic brain areas typically damaged in cases of amnesia normally contribute to implicit sequence learning.

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