Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Long-Term Perceptual Specificity Effects in Recognition Memory: The Transformed Pictures Paradigm

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology

Long-Term Perceptual Specificity Effects in Recognition Memory: The Transformed Pictures Paradigm

Article excerpt

Abstract The effects of a study/test mismatch in the viewing mode of natural scenes on recognition memory performance were examined. At both encoding and retrieval, scenes were presented either by being divided into quarters that were displayed in a sequential cumulative fashion or by scrolling the images through the screen, thereby gradually revealing the content of the images. Half of the participants were tested immediately after encoding and the other half after 48 hours. For both the immediate and delayed retrieval conditions, better recognition memory was demonstrated when viewing modes matched across study and test than when they mismatched. Implications for current processing and multiple systems views of memory are discussed.

A handful of studies have demonstrated perceptual specificity effects in recognition memory, showing reduced performance when there was a stimulus mismatch between study and test for variables such as size (Beiderman & Cooper, 1992; Cooper, Schacter, Ballesteros, & Moore, 1992; Jolicoeur, 1987; Kolers, Duchnicky, & Sundstroem, 1985; Milliken & Jolicoeur, 1992; Rajaram, 1996), contrast and illumination (Srinivas, 1996), orientation (Cooper et al., 1992; Dallett, Wilcox, & D'Andrea, 1968; Rajaram, 1996; Srinivas, 1995) and colour (Cave, Bost, & Cobb, 1996). However, such findings of perceptual specificity have had little impact on current theoretical models. It is likely that this is because of the emphasis that has been placed on task dissociations involving traditional explicit tasks, such as recognition memory and recall, and traditional implicit tasks, such as perceptual identification, word-stem completion and word-fragment completion. Using these tasks, empirical evidence has been compiled whereby performance on explicit tasks was found to be sensitive to conceptual elaborative encoding (e.g., levels of processing manipulations), whereas mismatches in stimulus form across study and test (e.g., modality manipulations) were found to influence implicit task performance. In contrast, the former manipulation had relatively little effect on performance on traditional implicit tasks, and the latter had relatively little effect on performance on traditional explicit tasks (for detailed discussions, see Blaxton, 1989; Richardson-Klavehn & Bjork, 1988; Roediger & McDermott, 1993; Schacter, 1987).

Recently, however, powerful perceptual specificity effects on recognition memory performance were demonstrated with both patients and normal participants, suggesting that such effects merit closer scrutiny. Specifically, in an important series of studies, patients with semantic dementia, who by definition have "impaired performance on any task that requires conceptual knowledge about objects, facts, concepts, and the meaning of words" (Simons, Graham, Galton, Patterson, & Hodges, 2001, p. 102) have, nonetheless, been found to show normal recognition memory for pictures of nameable objects provided the stimuli were identical across study and test (Graham, Becker, & Hodges, 1997; Graham, Simons, Pratt, Patterson, & Hodges, 2000; Simons & Graham, 2000). However, when perceptually different exemplars were used across study and test, the patients' recognition memory was severely impaired compared to that of controls (Graham et al., 2000).

In addition, an eye-movement study by Reingold (2002) demonstrated sizable perceptual specificity effects with normal participants. In this study, as participants viewed pictures or words, they could only see the portions of the stimuli that were either in their central vision or in their peripheral vision. Thus, the participants had to move their eyes differently to process the stimuli depending on the viewing mode. Importantly, the results showed that recognition performance was better when the viewing mode was congruent across study and test (peripheral-peripheral, central-central), than when the viewing mode was incongruent (central-peripheral, peripheral-central). …

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