Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

  • Transfer appropriate fluency: Encoding and retrieval interactions in fluency-based memory illusions. 20180419
    Stimuli that are fluently processed are more likely to be called “old” on a recognition memory test compared with less fluently processed stimuli. The goal of the current study was to investigate how the perceived diagnostic value of fluency is affected by a match between encoding and test conditions. During the encoding phase, participants engaged in different tasks designed to reflect different phonological processing requirements. On a later recognition test, the phonological fluency of some of the items was enhanced. The results showed a relationship between the degree of phonological processing carried out during encoding and the degree to which phonological fluency affected recognition memory decisions. Moreover, when both encoding and fluency conditions were manipulated, there was an encoding by retrieval interaction. When the encoding phase involved attending to visual features, perceptual fluency had a larger effect on recognition responses than phonological fluency. Likewise, when encoding focused on phonological features, phonological fluency had a larger influence on recognition than perceptual fluency. Collectively, the results show that fluency-based illusions of recognition memory recognition biases are more likely when there is a match in the attributes emphasized during study and test. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Two sources of information in reconstructing event sequence. 20180412
    Reconstructing memory for sequences is a complex process, likely involving multiple sources of information. In 3 experiments, we examined the source(s) of information that might underlie the ability to accurately place an event within a temporal context. The task was to estimate, after studying each list, the temporal position of a single test word within that list. In the first 2 experiments, we demonstrated that memory for temporal location was better following semantic encoding than silent reading of the list, which in turn was better than orthographic encoding of the list. Although other measures of sequence retention have revealed impaired memory for order with greater item-level encoding, these experiments demonstrated that item-level encoding improved memory for temporal-location. A 3rd experiment extended these findings by measuring interitem associations in addition to item memory, demonstrating that memory for temporal location within a list was more closely related to item information than to interitem relational information. It is now clear that reconstructing an event sequence can involve at least 2 distinct sources of information—both item and relational encoding can play important roles, depending on the nature of the test for order. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Informed guessing in change detection. 20171221
    Provided stimuli are highly distinct, the detection of changes between two briefly separated arrays appears to be achieved by an all-or-none process where either the relevant information is in working memory or observers guess. This observation suggests that it is possible to estimate the average number of items an observer was able to retain across a series of trials, a potentially highly informative cognitive characteristic. For each version of the change detection paradigm, for this estimate to be accurate, it is important to specify how observers use the information available to them. For some instantiations of this task it is possible that observers use knowledge of the contents of working memory even when they are in a guessing state, rather than selecting between the response alternatives at random. Here we test the suggestion that observers may be able to use their knowledge of the number of items in memory to guide guessing in two versions of the change detection task. The four experiments reported here suggest that participants are, in fact, able to use the parameters of the task to update their base expectation of a change occurring to arrive at more informed guessing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Proceeding with care for successful prospective memory: Do we delay ongoing responding or actively monitor for cues? 20180319
    In prospective memory (PM) research, costs (slowed responding to the ongoing task when a PM task is present relative to when it is not) have typically been interpreted as implicating an attentionally demanding monitoring process. To inform this interpretation, Heathcote, Loft, and Remington (2015), using an accumulator model, found that PM-related costs were associated with changes in a decision threshold parameter. This pattern was interpreted as disfavoring a monitoring process and supporting a non-capacity-consuming delayed responding strategy. The present study combined both behavioral and modeling techniques, as well as embedded parameter validation, to better illuminate the underlying processes involved in PM. We encouraged participants to use either a delayed responding or a monitoring strategy and used these conditions as anchor points for comparing a standard PM condition (with no strategy instructions). The monitoring strategy benefited PM more than did a delayed responding strategy. Most importantly, behaviors and modeling parameters associated with the standard PM instructions more closely reflected footprints of monitoring. Further, we found no individual model parameter that directly implicates monitoring behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • The development of wrap-up processes in text reading: A study of children’s eye movements. 20180305
    Reading comprehension is the product of constructing a coherent mental model of a text. Although some of the processes that are necessary to construct such a mental model are executed incrementally, others are deferred to the end of the clause or sentence, where integration processing is wrapped up before the reader progresses further in the text. In this longitudinal study of 65 German-speaking children across Grades 2, 3, and 4, we investigated the development of wrap-up processes at clause and sentence boundaries by tracking the children’s eye movements while they read age-appropriate texts. Our central finding was that children in Grade 2 showed strong wrap-up effects that then slowly decreased across school grades. Children in Grades 3 and 4 also increasingly used clause and sentence boundaries to initiate regressions and rereading. Finally, children in Grade 2 were shown to be significantly disrupted in their reading at line breaks, which are inherent in continuous text. This disruption decreased as the children progressed to Grades 3 and 4. Overall, our results show that children exhibit an adultlike pattern of wrap-up effects by the time they reach Grade 4. We discuss this developmental trajectory in relation to models of text processing and mechanisms of eye-movement control. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Differential emotional processing in concrete and abstract words. 20180212
    Emotion (positive and negative) words are typically recognized faster than neutral words. Recent research suggests that emotional valence, while often treated as a unitary semantic property, may be differentially represented in concrete and abstract words. Studies that have explicitly examined the interaction of emotion and concreteness, however, have demonstrated inconsistent patterns of results. Moreover, these findings may be limited as certain key lexical variables (e.g., familiarity, age of acquisition) were not taken into account. We investigated the emotion-concreteness interaction in a large-scale, highly controlled lexical decision experiment. A 3 (Emotion: negative, neutral, positive) × 2 (Concreteness: abstract, concrete) design was used, with 45 items per condition and 127 participants. We found a significant interaction between emotion and concreteness. Although positive and negative valenced words were recognized faster than neutral words, this emotion advantage was significantly larger in concrete than in abstract words. We explored potential contributions of participant alexithymia level and item imageability to this interactive pattern. We found that only word imageability significantly modulated the emotion-concreteness interaction. While both concrete and abstract emotion words are advantageously processed relative to comparable neutral words, the mechanisms of this facilitation are paradoxically more dependent on imageability in abstract words. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Perceptual boundaries cause mnemonic trade-offs between local boundary processing and across-trial associative binding. 20180219
    Episodic memories are not veridical records of our lives, but rather are better described as organized summaries of experience. Theories and empirical research suggest that shifts in perceptual, temporal, and semantic information lead to a chunking of our continuous experiences into segments, or “events.” However, the consequences of these contextual shifts on memory formation and organization remains unclear. In a series of 3 behavioral studies, we introduced context shifts (or “event boundaries”) between trains of stimuli and then examined the influence of the boundaries on several measures of associative memory. In Experiment 1, we found that perceptual event boundaries strengthened associative binding of item-context pairings present at event boundaries. In Experiment 2, we observed reduced temporal order memory for items encoded in distinct events relative to items encoded within the same event, and a trade-off between the speed of processing at boundaries, and temporal order memory for items that flanked those boundaries. Finally, in Experiment 3 we found that event organization imprinted structure on the order in which items were freely recalled. These results provide insight into how boundary- and event-related organizational processes during encoding shape subsequent representations of events in episodic memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Individual differences in semantic processing: Insights from the Calgary semantic decision project. 20180226
    Most previous studies of semantic processing have examined group-level data. We investigated the possibility that there might be individual differences in semantic decision performance even among the standard undergraduate population and that such differences might provide insights into semantic processing. We analyzed the Calgary Semantic Decision Project dataset, which includes concrete/abstract semantic decision responses to thousands of words and also a vocabulary measure for each of 312 participants. Results of our analyses showed that semantic decision responses had good reliability, and that the speed of those responses was related to individual differences as assessed by vocabulary scores and also by diffusion model parameters. That is, semantic decisions were faster for participants with higher vocabulary scores and for participants with steeper drift rates. Further, in their semantic decision responses high vocabulary participants showed more sensitivity to some lexical/semantic predictors and less sensitivity to others. For responses to both concrete and abstract words, high vocabulary participants were more sensitive to word concreteness and less sensitive to word frequency and age of acquisition. For concrete words, high vocabulary participants were also more sensitive to semantic neighborhood similarity. The results suggest that high vocabulary participants are able to more readily access semantic information and are better able to emphasize task-relevant dimensions. In sum, the results are consistent with a dynamic, multidimensional account of semantic processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

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