Being exposed to things we're not familiar with puts us in learning mode and makes us more prepared to learn about the new thing later on.

Once we've encountered a new thing, our brains are able to take in more information after a short time. Scientists should be able to understand this type of learning.

Most of the way we see things in the world has to do with how we categorize them. We learned that cats and dogs are different in that they are exposed to cats and dogs rather than being taught the details.

The researchers wanted to find out how this exposure contributes to our learning.

Vladimir Sloutsky is a psychologist from Ohio State University.

Being exposed to them makes us want to learn more about them later.

There were five different experiments that the team ran. A custom computer game was used by researchers to expose the participants to creatures similar to cats and dogs.

The participants were told to react quickly to a creature jumping either to a red panel on the left side of the screen or a blue panel on the right side. The side the creatures jumped to was the same as their category and there were different types of category structures.

People who had been exposed to the creatures in the initial phase were able to learn the secret categories quicker.

The made up categories 'flurps' and 'jalets' were revealed to those taking part in the experiment. Explaining how to distinguish between different colored tails and hands was one part of the teaching.

The creatures were used for the experiments Psychol.Unger and Sloutsky. The year 2022.

Even though they weren't exposed to any kind of learning instructions during the initial phase, volunteers who were exposed to pictures offlurps andjalets in advance were able to grasp the differences between the creature categories more quickly.

"Participants who received early exposure to Category A and B creatures could become familiar with their different distributions of characteristics, such as that creatures with blue tails tended to have brown hands, and creatures with orange tails tended to have green hands."

It was easy to attach a label to the distributions when explicit learning came about.

In experiment five, the initial phase images were accompanied by one of two sounds assigned at random, and the participants had to respond to the sound rather than the picture.

Volunteers who glimpsed 'flurps' and 'jalets' during the initial phase did better in the learning phase, suggesting that a lot of what was being absorbed was done at a subliminal level. It was enough to begin learning.

Participants weren't ready to tell the difference between the two categories after being exposed to the creatures. They were ready to learn, even though they hadn't yet.

Future studies could look at the process in infants and children as well, since studies of this type are rare.

It has been difficult to diagnose when it's happening.

This research was able to distinguish between what people learn and what they don't.

The research has appeared in a journal.