Modes of Cognitive Control in Recognition and Source Memory: Depth of Retrieval

Article excerpt

Recognition memory is usually regarded as a judgment based on trace strength or familiarity. But recognition may also be accomplished by constraining retrieval so that only sought after information comes to mind (source-constrained retrieval). We introduce a memory-for-foils paradigm that provides evidence for source-constrained retrieval in recognition memory (Experiment 1) and source memory (Experiment 2). In this paradigm, subjects studied words under deep or shallow encoding conditions and were given a memory test (recognition or source) that required them to discriminate between new items (foils) and either deep or shallow targets. A final recognition test was used to examine memory for the foils. In both experiments, foil memory was superior when subjects attempted to retrieve deep rather than shallow targets on the earlier test. These findings support a source-constrained retrieval view of cognitive control by demonstrating qualitative differences in the basis for memory performance.

Recognition memory is traditionally described as relying on a judgment of unidimensionsal trace strength or familiarity. For example, in global activation models of memory (e.g., Gillund & Shiffrin, 1984), recognition is accomplished by comparing a memory probe's strength, familiarity, or activation against a decision criterion. If the probe's value exceeds criterion, it is accepted as "old"; otherwise, it is rejected as "new." The greater the match between a memory probe and traces in memory, including the match between study and test contexts, the greater the level of familiarity. Thus, the emphasis lies in the quantitative relationship between the probe and criterion. In contrast, we argue that recognition is sometimes accomplished by considering the kind of memory that is sought. Our position is that recognition often involves sourceconstrained retrieval-the self-initiated use of source information to constrain what comes to mind during retrieval. Specifically, we suggest that processes implemented during study are sometimes reimplemented during retrieval by the rememberer. As a result, sourceconstrained retrieval influences not only what is accepted or rejected, but also what information is used to make recognition decisions.

Experiment 1 was designed to show that sourceconstrained retrieval can produce a qualitative change in the type of information used for recognition memory judgments and influence the manner in which both old and new test items are processed. During the first phase of Experiment 1 (Figure 1), level of processing (e.g., Craik & Lockhart, 1972) was manipulated by having subjects make pleasantness judgments for words in one list and judgments about the vowels of words in another list. In Phase 2, subjects were given two tests of recognition memory. For one test of recognition memory, they were correctly informed that all "old" words had been judged for pleasantness. For another test, they were correctly informed that all "old" words had been vowel judged. We expected results from these tests to replicate results of prior experiments (e.g., Craik & Lockhart, 1972). That is, judging the pleasantness of words (deep processing) should produce recognition memory performance better than that for vowel judgments (shallow processing).

To gain evidence of source-constrained retrieval, a third phase of Experiment 1 tested recognition memory for new items (foils) that appeared on the earlier recognition memory tests. By the source-constrained retrieval view, it was predicted that foils from the recognition test for pleasantnessjudged items were more likely to be later recognized than foils appearing in the recognition test for vowel-judged items. This follows because recognition is held to be accomplished by constraining retrieval processing in a way that recapitulates study processing. Consequently, when attempting to recognize pleasantness-judged old words, subjects would likely process the meaning of both targets and foils, perhaps considering each test word's pleasantness to determine whether they had made a similar judgment previously. …


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