Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Repetition Priming Endurance in Picture Naming and Translation: Contributions of Component Processes

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Repetition Priming Endurance in Picture Naming and Translation: Contributions of Component Processes

Article excerpt

The processes contributing to the durability of repetition priming in picture naming and its decline across a week were assessed in two experiments with Spanish-English bilinguals. In Experiment 1, both picture identification and word retrieval processes of picture naming exhibited facilitation after a week. Word retrieval priming declined substantially relative to a 10-min retention interval, but picture identification priming remained stable. In Experiment 2, word translation exhibited repetition priming after a week. Decreased word retrieval priming accounted for the attenuation of translation priming relative to a 10-min interval, whereas word comprehension priming remained stable. A linear process model was used to formalize and test key hypotheses and to clarify the influences of component processes and retention interval on repetition priming.

Scientific understanding of human memory processes has often been advanced by the examination of qualitative and quantitative changes in memory performance across shorter and longer retention intervals. The time course of memory performance puts constraints on explanatory mechanisms. For example, repetition priming effects lasting for several days or weeks are inconsistent with the idea that they are based on temporary activation (Schacter, 1987), a popular explanation in the 1980s (e.g., Graf & Mandler, 1984; Morton, 1979). More specifically, facilitation for naming repeated pictures relative to new pictures is substantial even after several weeks and therefore cannot be based solely on residual activation from the initial exposure (Cave, 1997; Mitchell & Brown, 1988; Mitchell, Brown, & Murphy, 1990); instead, such effects reflect sustained learning based on a single experimental episode. The finding that people with global amnesia and age-matched controls show comparable levels of facilitation in naming repeated pictures at 2- and 7-day intervals also indicates that this repetition priming effect and its retention across time do not require support from explicit memory (Cave & Squire, 1992).

Since Ebbinghaus's (1885) pioneering experiments, it has been known that forgetting generally occurs rapidly at first and slows over time. Consistent with the patterns of performance observed in more traditional tests of explicit memory and savings, studies of repetition priming in picture naming also suggest a rapid drop in facilitation at first, and then a slower loss of facilitation over time (Brown, Jones, & Mitchell, 1996; Cave, 1997; Cave & Squire, 1992; Mitchell & Brown, 1988; Mitchell etal., 1990). Various mechanisms that might lead to this type of aggregate forgetting function have been evaluated in the context of explicit memory (Wickens, 1998; Wixted, 2004). One possibility is that a set of items with heterogeneous exponential forgetting rates would, in the aggregate, appear as a power function. However, Wixted makes a strong case that the variability required in the forgetting rates is so large as to make a heterogeneous exponential-decay explanation implausible in the context of results that demonstrate that vastly different item types show similar decay rates, once encoded. He concludes that the best supported mechanism underlying the form of the forgetting function is that the longer any item is retained in memory, the less likely it is to be lost in the next unit of time, a conclusion consistent with neuroscientific theories of memory consolidation.

Within the context of repetition priming, we explore a variant of the item-variability explanation, which we will call a process-variability explanation. Repetition priming in a complex task, such as picture naming, derives from the speeding of multiple processes (see the next section). These processes may be regarded as qualitatively different from one another and may exhibit different decay rates following a learning episode. The aggregate function would then show rapid decay at first and slower decay over time as an artifact of the combination of processes that have faster and slower decay rates. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.