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Memory as discrimination: what distraction reveals

Beaman, C. P., Hanczakowski, M., Hodgetts, H., Marsh, J. and Jones, D. (2013) Memory as discrimination: what distraction reveals. Memory & Cognition, 41 (8). pp. 1238-1251. ISSN 1532-5946

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3758/s13421-013-0327-4


Recalling information involves the process of discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information stored in memory. Not infrequently, the relevant information needs to be selected from amongst a series of related possibilities. This is likely to be particularly problematic when the irrelevant possibilities are not only temporally or contextually appropriate but also overlap semantically with the target or targets. Here, we investigate the extent to which purely perceptual features which discriminate between irrelevant and target material can be used to overcome the negative impact of contextual and semantic relatedness. Adopting a distraction paradigm, it is demonstrated that when distracters are interleaved with targets presented either visually (Experiment 1) or auditorily (Experiment 2), a within-modality semantic distraction effect occurs; semantically-related distracters impact upon recall more than unrelated distracters. In the semantically-related condition, the number of intrusions in recall is reduced whilst the number of correctly recalled targets is simultaneously increased by the presence of perceptual cues to relevance (color features in Experiment 1 or speaker’s gender in Experiment 2). However, as demonstrated in Experiment 3, even presenting semantically-related distracters in a language and a sensory modality (spoken Welsh) distinct from that of the targets (visual English) is insufficient to eliminate false recalls completely, or to restore correct recall to levels seen with unrelated distracters . Together, the study shows how semantic and non-semantic discriminability shape patterns of both erroneous and correct recall.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Cognition Research (CCR)
ID Code:32319
Uncontrolled Keywords:Discrimination, Distraction, Front-end Control, Retrieval Orientation
Publisher:Springer Verlag


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