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The role of language in novel task learning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number104036
Number of pages7
Early online date29 Aug 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 31 Jul 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Aug 2019
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2020


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.

    Structured keywords

  • Language

    Research areas

  • skill acquisition, language, learning



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    Embargo ends: 29/08/20

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    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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