Express: Reliability of the Serial Reaction Time task: If at first you don't succeed, try try try again

Catia Margarida Oliveira*, Emma Hayiou-Thomas, Lisa M Henderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Procedural memory is involved in the acquisition and control of skills and habits that underlie rule and procedural learning, including the acquisition of grammar and phonology. The Serial Reaction Time task (SRTT), commonly used to assess procedural learning, has been shown to have poor stability (test-retest reliability). We investigated factors that may affect the stability of the SRTT in adults. Experiment 1 examined whether the similarity of sequences learned in two sessions would impact stability: test-retest correlations were low regardless of sequence similarity (r < .31). Experiment 2 added a third session to examine whether individual differences in learning would stabilise with further training. There was a small (but nonsignificant) improvement in stability for later sessions (session 1-2: r = .42; session 2-3: r = .60). Stability of procedural learning on the SRTT remained suboptimal in all conditions, posing a serious obstacle to the use of this task as a sensitive predictor of individual differences and ultimately theoretical advance.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalQuarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006)
Early online date4 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Feb 2024

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