The ability to rapidly acquire novel cognitive skills is a hallmark of human cognition. Theories of skill acquisition assume that this process is reliant on language, but to date this assertion has not been conclusively supported by empirical evidence. In two experiments participants (total N=68) were required to learn, by trial-and-error, the correct response to sets of ﬁve object stimuli. To investigate the contribution of language to this process, participants performed a verbal (articulatory suppression), a non-verbal (foot tapping), or no distractor task during the ﬁrst or second half of each task. In both experiments, articulatory suppression resulted in increased error rates (compared to foot tapping), but only during the ﬁrst (and not the second) half of each task. These results constitute the ﬁrst convincing evidence for the diminishing role of language in novel task learning and are discussed in relation to theories of skill acquisition.
- Cognitive Science
- skill acquisition