Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Auditory Recognition without Identification

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Auditory Recognition without Identification

Article excerpt

When visual recognition test items are unidentifiable-through fragmentation, for example-participants can discriminate between unidentifiable items that were presented recently and those that were not. The present study extends this recognition without identification phenomenon to the auditory modality. In several experiments, participants listened to words and were then presented with spoken recognition test items that were embedded in white noise. Participants attempted to identify each spoken word through the white noise, then rated the likelihood that the word was studied. Auditory recognition without identification was found: Participants discriminated between studied and unstudied words in the absence of an ability to identify them through white noise, even when the voice changed from male to female and when the study list was presented visually. The effect was also found when identification was hindered through the isolation of particular phonemes, suggesting that phoneme information may be present in memory traces for recently spoken words.

Recognition without identification is the finding that when identification of recognition test items is hindered, participants can discriminate between unidentified studied and unidentified unstudied items. This effect was first shown with word fragments (Cleary & Greene, 2000; Peynircioglu, 1990). When participants view a word (e.g., RAINDROP) and then receive a test list, containing word fragments (e.g., R_ _dr_ _p), in which half of the fragments correspond to studied words and half to unstudied words, participants can discriminate between unidentifiable fragments of studied words and unidentifiable fragments of unstudied words. In the procedure, for every fragment presented on the test, participants are first asked to identify the word from the fragment. Then, whether or not they are able to do so, they are asked to rate the likelihood that the fragment came from a word on the study list. It has been shown repeatedly with this paradigm that participants give significantly higher recognition ratings to unidentified studied fragments than to unidentified unstudied fragments (Cleary, 2002; Cleary & Greene, 2000, 2001; Lloyd, Westerman, & Miller, 2007; Peynircioglu, 1990).

The paradigm used to elicit recognition without identification presents a potential methodological means of investigating the types of isolable features that can give rise to recognition memory in standard list-learning paradigms. Memory researchers have long assumed that memory traces for studied events exist as compilations of separable features. For example, Tulving and Bower (1974) state:

A rather general and atheoretical conception of the memory trace of an event regards it as a collection of features or a bundle of information. This view has been proposed and elaborated by many writers (e.g., Anisfeld & Knapp, 1968; Bower, 1967; Bregman & Chambers, 1966; Underwood, 1969; Wickens, 1970) and is now generally accepted as one of the basic pretheoretical assumptions, (p. 269)

This pretheoretical assumption is evident in many formal models of memory (e.g., Nairne, 1990, 2001), including recognition memory (e.g., Hintzman, 1988). For example, in the global matching models of recognition (see Clark & Gronlund, 1996, for a review), memory traces are stored as sequences of features, and recognition decisions are based on the global match between the features present in the test probe and all of the features that have been stored in memory from the encoding phase.

Because the paradigm used to elicit recognition without identification involves hindering identification through the isolation of particular item features, it can be viewed as a useful methodological means of investigating the types of isolable item features that can give rise to recognition. Note that with the aforementioned studies involving recognition without identification of word fragments, the isolated features on which recognition is based are particular letters in particular locations (e. …

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