This paper examines the relationship between the explicit and the implicit memory and learning systems in terms of recent findings in neuropsychology and outlines the implications for technology education in terms of student learning.
The psychological Dual Systems Theory situates the processing of perception, assessment, decision-making and action in two parallel but different cognitive systems. The Declarative/Explicit system is conscious, remembering facts and episodes; it is rational and logical but also limited in complexity and speed. Working Memory’s (WM) capacity, an “end station” of this system, is severely limited. Depending on modality between 4 and 9 variables or steps in a sequence may be handled at once. More will lead to cognitive loading and impasse. Since WM probably is our consciousness, we will not be able to analyse what was dropped out or what happened, we will just get confused. The narrow view of conscious vision, the slow speed and the problems with details and complexity in space and time makes this system less suitable for real time, real complexity work.
The non conscious Implicit System on the other hand does not use Working Memory and will not be hampered by cognitive overload; it’s a pattern recognition system with very fast recognition of earlier encountered situations and objects. It has several important functions:
1- To direct conscious attention to what is important and relevant in a situation.
2- To give a fast assessment, built upon somatic markers incorporated in memory.
3- To start an automatic reaction to what is perceived,
The lifespan of this memory system is long, and it seems very hard to erase or to change them. Most of what we usually refer to as skill seems to be connected to learning in this system. The Dual Systems model has recently been supported with neurophysiologic results showing, two different anatomical systems. The somatic markers have been identified, the secondary implicit vision system and concepts such as tacit knowing, automaticity, flow and intuition are starting to be understood. This model gives a new way of understanding what we do in technology education, gives clues of how to promote creativity, holistic learning, system thinking, forward reasoning and more.
Griffith IInstitute for Educational Research , 2010. 49-56 p.
Working memory, implicit learning, tacit knowledge, technology, education, skill, expert