Dissociative episodic and semantic priming effects in episodic recognition and lexical decision tasks

James H. Neely, Aydin Y. Durgunoǧlu

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Abstract

In two experiments, after studying semantically unrelated paired-associates, subjects made either episodic recognition judgments (was this item in the study list?) or lexical (word-nonword) decisions to studied and nonstudied word and nonword targets. Studied word targets were preceded 150 or 950 ms by one of four types of primes: (1) a neutral XXX prime, (2) an episodically related word prime from the same paired-associate as the word target, (3) a semantically related word prime that had been studied with a word other than the word target, or (4) an unrelated word prime. The main results were that for episodic recognition the processing of studied word targets was facilitated by episodically related primes and inhibited by semantically related primes, whereas for lexical decisions neither effect occurred. These results suggest that subjects attempt to suppress associations (whether episodic or semantic in nature) when they are irrelevant to task performance and have implications for M. I. Posner and C. R. R. Snyder's (1975a, Attention and Performance V. New York: Academic Press) priming theory and E. Tulving's (1983, Elements of Episodic Memory. New York: Oxford) episodic-semantic memory distinction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-489
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1985

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Because both authors contributed equally. the order of authorship counterbalances the randomly determined order of authorship on another manuscript (Durgunoglu & Neely, 1984) to which the authors also made equal contributions. Experiment 2 was conducted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a MS. degree at Purdue University for the second author and was supported by Grant R01 HD15054 awarded to the first author by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. We thank Kent Ross for assistance in data analyses and Sue Kroeger, Pierette Maniago, and Rick Zemer for assistance in testing subjects. We also thank Harley Bern-bath and Howard Ranken, who served on the MS. committee, Gail McKoon and Roger Ratcliff for thoughtful discussions about this work, and Roddy Roediger, Endel Tulving, and Ed Shoben for their suggestions for improving the paper’s organization and readability. Experiment 2 was reported at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society held in Minneapolis in November 1982. Requests for reprints should be sent to James H. Neely, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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