On the immunity of perceptual implicit memory to manipulations of attention

  • Newell B
  • Cavenett T
  • Andrews S
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In four experiments, we examined the effect of manipulating study phase attention in a Stroop task on the extent of repetition priming in the lexical decision task (LDT). Experiment 1 replicated the immunity of the LDT to division of attention reported by Szymanski and MacLeod (1996), using a standard Stroop configuration. Response times to previously encountered words were identical regardless of whether the participants were required to read the words or name the color in which they were presented. Experiment 2 demonstrated that implementing the Stroop manipulation across separate visual objects reduced but did not eliminate priming of unattended words, provided the words remained in the attended region of the stimulus display. When this constraint was removed in Experiment 3, priming of unattended words disappeared. Experiment 4 demonstrated statistically equivalent priming for attended and unattended words when the Stroop manipulation remained in the same visual object but attention was directed to a single letter of the word. In all four experiments, the Stroop manipulation had a clear effect on recognition. These results qualify claims that the LDT might be immune to manipulations of study phase attention and suggest that the LDT has a lower threshold level of attention at encoding than do other standard implicit tests of memory.

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  • Ben R. Newell

  • Tamara Cavenett

  • Sally Andrews

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