Regional Brain Activation during Concurrent Implicit and Explicit Sequence Learning

Howard J. Aizenstein, V. Andrew Stenger, Jennifer Cochran, Kristi Clark, Melissa Johnson, Robert D. Nebes, Cameron S Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


We used event-related fMRI to identify the brain regions engaged during explicit and implicit sequence learning (ESL and ISL, respectively). Twenty-four subjects performed a concurrent ESL and ISL task. Behavior showed learning in both conditions. Prefrontal (PFC), striatal, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and visual regions (V1, V2 and V3) were engaged during both ESL and ISL. With ESL there was increased activity in the visual regions on the predictable (i.e. learned pattern) trials. With ISL, however, there was a relative decrease in activity in visual regions. The opposite patterns in the visual regions highlight the different effects of ESL and ISL. The learning process was distinguished from the result of learning, by fitting subjects' functional magnetic resonance imaging data to their learning curve. This analysis revealed more extensive PFC activity during ESL and caudal ACC activity specific for the result of learning analysis, when the expected response was violated. Our results suggest a relative dissociation of the brain regions engaged during ESL and ISL, whereby ESL and ISL can be viewed as partially distinct but overlapping parallel processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Explicit learning
  • fMRI
  • Implicit learning
  • Sequence learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Regional Brain Activation during Concurrent Implicit and Explicit Sequence Learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this