Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

  • Does the acquisition of spatial skill involve a shift from algorithm to memory retrieval? 20170529
    Performance on verbal and mathematical tasks is enhanced when participants shift from using algorithms to retrieving information directly from memory (Siegler, 1988a). However, it is unknown whether a shift to retrieval is involved in dynamic spatial skill acquisition. For example, do athletes mentally extrapolate the trajectory of the ball, or do they retrieve the future location from memory? To examine this question, 2 experiments were conducted using a task paradigm similar to the game Pong—a ball was launched from 1 side of the screen and participants attempted to position a paddle to intercept the ball. In Experiment 1, participants responded to a limited number of repeated trajectories. During the learning phase, the response deadline was near the paddle. During the difficult phase, the response deadline was closer to the launch point. During the critical phase, novel trajectories were introduced at the difficult response deadline. If participants are using a retrieval strategy by the critical phase, performance should be significantly worse on the novel trajectories, whereas if they are using an algorithmic strategy, performance on the novel trials should be similar to performance on the repeated trajectories. In Experiment 2, half the participants followed an experimental paradigm similar to Experiment 1 and half experienced all novel trajectories throughout the task. Our results were consistent with a shift from algorithmic processing to retrieval—participants performed significantly better on repeated trajectories relative to novel trajectories. Furthermore, retrieval strategies enhance performance above and beyond what is gained by practicing the algorithm alone. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Cue integration in spatial search for jointly learned landmarks but not for separately learned landmarks. 20170515
    The authors investigated how humans use multiple landmarks to locate a goal. Participants searched for a hidden goal location along a line between 2 distinct landmarks on a computer screen. On baseline trials, the location of the landmarks and goal varied, but the distance between each of the landmarks and the goal was held constant, with 1 landmark always closer to the goal. In Experiment 1, some baseline trials provided both landmarks, and some provided only 1 landmark. On probe trials, both landmarks were shifted apart relative to the previously learned goal location. Participants searched between the locations specified by the 2 landmarks and their search locations were shifted more toward the nearer landmark, suggesting a weighted integration of the conflicting landmarks. Moreover, the observed variance in search responses when both cues were presented in their normal locations was reduced compared to the variance on tests with single landmarks. However, the variance reduction and the weightings of the landmarks did not always show Bayesian optimality. In Experiment 2, some participants were trained only with each of the single landmarks. On subsequent tests with the 2 cues in conflict, searching did not shift toward the nearer landmark and the variance of search responses of these single-cue trained participants was larger than their variance on single-landmark tests, and even larger than the variance predicted by using the 2 landmarks alternatively on different trials. Taken together, these results indicate that cue combination occurs only when the landmarks are presented together during the initial learning experience. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Endogenous formation of preferences: Choices systematically change willingness-to-pay for goods. 20170515
    Standard decision theory assumes that choices result from stable preferences. This position has been challenged by claims that the act of choosing between goods may alter preferences. To test this claim, we investigated in three experiments whether choices between equally valued snack food items can systematically shape preferences. We directly assessed changes in participants’ willingness-to-pay for these items, some of which could be bought at an auction after the experiment, while others could not. We found that chosen items were valued higher, and nonchosen items were valued lower; yet this postdecisional refinement of preferences was only observed for choices and valuations that were relevant, that is, incentive-compatible for items that were available for consumption. Supplementary analyses revealed that incentive-incompatible elicitations of preferences were unreliable and may have masked potential effects of choices on preferences. In conclusion, we propose that preferences can change endogenously, that is, in the absence of external feedback or information, but rather as a function of previous relevant choices. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Declines in representational quality and strategic retrieval processes contribute to age-related increases in false recognition. 20170522
    In a Yes/No object recognition memory test with similar lures, older adults typically exhibit elevated rates of false recognition. However, the contributions of impaired retrieval, relative to reduced availability of target details, are difficult to disentangle using such a test. The present investigation sought to decouple these factors by comparing performance on a Yes/No (YN) test to that on a Forced Choice (FC) test, which minimizes demands on strategic retrieval processes, enabling a more direct measure of the availability of object details. Older adults exhibited increased lure false recognition across test formats (Experiment 1), suggesting a decline in the availability of object details contributes to deficits in performance. Manipulating interference by varying the number of objects studied selectively enhanced performance in the FC test, resulting in matched performance across groups, whereas age differences in YN performance persisted (Experiment 2), indicating an additional contribution of impaired strategic retrieval. Consistent with differential sensitivity of test format to strategic retrieval and the quality of stimulus representations among older adults, variability in the quality of object representations, measured using a perceptual discrimination task, was selectively related to FC performance. In contrast, variability in memory control processes, as measured with tests of recall and executive function, was related to performance across test formats. These results suggest that both declines in the availability of object details and impaired retrieval of object details contribute to elevated rates of lure false recognition with age, and highlight the utility of test format for dissociating these factors in memory-impaired populations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Framing affects scale usage for judgments of learning, not confidence in memory. 20170515
    Framing metacognitive judgments of learning (JOLs) in terms of the likelihood of forgetting rather than remembering consistently yields a counterintuitive outcome: The mean of participants’ forget-framed JOLs is often higher (after reverse-scoring) than the mean of their remember-framed JOLs, suggesting greater confidence in memory. In the present experiments, we tested 2 competing explanations for this pattern of results. The optimistic-anchoring hypothesis suggests that forget-framed JOLs are associated with greater optimism about memory than are remember-framed JOLs, which leads to their greater magnitude. The differential-scaling hypothesis suggests that forget-framed JOLs and remember-framed JOLs will often be distributed differently across the JOL scale, resulting in means that also often differ. Participants in 3 experiments studied simple memory materials and made JOLs predicting their memory performance for those items. They made their JOLs in terms of either the likelihood of remembering or forgetting. In contrast to the optimistic-anchoring hypothesis, the mean of participants’ forget-framed JOLs was unaffected by information concerning the supposed difficulty of the task (Experiment 1), was lower than for remember-framed JOLs in a task selected to evoke high JOLs (Experiment 2), and demonstrated equivalent confidence in memory when participants were restricted to a yes–no binary response (Experiment 3). In support of the differential-scaling hypothesis, participants’ forget-framed JOLs were consistently symmetrically distributed across the JOL scale, resulting in a mean at the center of the judgment scale that was often higher than that for remember-framed JOLs. Framing therefore affects how participants scale their JOLs, not their confidence in their memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Common modality effects in immediate free recall and immediate serial recall. 20170529
    In 2 experiments, participants were presented with lists of between 2 and 12 words for either immediate free recall (IFR) or immediate serial recall (ISR). Auditory recall advantages at the end of the list (modality effects) and visual recall advantages early in the list (inverse modality effects) were observed in both tasks and the extent and magnitude of these effects were dependent upon list length. Both tasks displayed modality effects with short lists that were large in magnitude but limited to the final serial position, consistent with those observed in the typically short lists used in ISR, and both tasks displayed modality effects with longer lists that were small in magnitude and more extended across multiple end-of-list positions, consistent with those observed in the typically longer lists used in IFR. Inverse modality effects were also observed in both tasks at early list positions on longer lengths. Presentation modality did not affect where recall was initiated, but modality effects were greatest on trials where participants initiated recall with the first item. We argue for a unified account of IFR and ISR. We also assume that the presentation modality affects the encoding of all list items, and that modality effects emerge due to the greater resistance of auditory items to output interference. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • The testing effect under divided attention. 20170515
    Memory retrieval often enhances later memory compared with restudying (i.e., the testing effect), indicating that retrieval does not simply reveal but also modifies memory representations. Dividing attention (DA) during encoding greatly disrupts later memory performance while DA during retrieval typically has modest effects—but what of the memory-modifying effects of retrieval? If these effects are similar to study-based encoding, they should be greatly disrupted by DA, a possibility consistent with elaborative and effortful accounts of the testing effect. Alternatively, the mnemonic consequences of retrieval may be largely resilient to distraction, like retrieval itself. In 3 experiments, participants studied word pairs (Phase 1) then engaged in restudy of some pairs and retrieval of others (Phase 2), followed by a final cued-recall test (Phase 3). Phase 2 restudy and retrieval occurred under full attention (FA) or DA. The experiments were designed to induce either material-specific (Experiments 1 and 2) or material-general (Experiment 3) interference, as well as to produce comparable secondary task performance between the restudy and retrieval groups (Experiments 2 and 3). Consistent with prior research, retrieval improved final recall (i.e., the testing effect) whereas DA disrupted final recall. Critically, the 2 factors interacted such that the negative effect of DA on final recall was substantial in the restudy condition but quite modest in the retrieval condition—resulting in a larger testing effect in the DA than FA condition. The encoding effects of retrieval seem resilient to distraction which has implications for theories of the testing effect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
  • The role of familiarity in correcting inaccurate information. 20170515
    People frequently continue to use inaccurate information in their reasoning even after a credible retraction has been presented. This phenomenon is often referred to as the continued influence effect of misinformation. The repetition of the original misconception within a retraction could contribute to this phenomenon, as it could inadvertently make the “myth” more familiar—and familiar information is more likely to be accepted as true. From a dual-process perspective, familiarity-based acceptance of myths is most likely to occur in the absence of strategic memory processes. Thus, we examined factors known to affect whether strategic memory processes can be utilized: age, detail, and time. Participants rated their belief in various statements of unclear veracity, and facts were subsequently affirmed and myths were retracted. Participants then rerated their belief either immediately or after a delay. We compared groups of young and older participants, and we manipulated the amount of detail presented in the affirmative or corrective explanations, as well as the retention interval between encoding and a retrieval attempt. We found that (a) older adults over the age of 65 were worse at sustaining their postcorrection belief that myths were inaccurate, (b) a greater level of explanatory detail promoted more sustained belief change, and (c) fact affirmations promoted more sustained belief change in comparison with myth retractions over the course of 1 week (but not over 3 weeks), This supports the notion that familiarity is indeed a driver of continued influence effects. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

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