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Short-term memory for pictures seen once or twice

By Paolo Martini and Vera Maljkovic


The present study is concerned with the effects of exposure time, repetition, spacing and lag on old/new recognition memory for generic visual scenes presented in a RSVP paradigm. Early memory studies with verbal material found that knowledge of total exposure time at study is sufficient to accurately predict memory performance at test (the Total Time Hypothesis), irrespective of number of repetitions, spacing or lag. However, other studies have disputed such simple dependence of memory strength on total study time, demonstrating super-additive facilitatory effects of spacing and lag, as well as inhibitory effects, such as the Ranschburg effect, Repetition Blindness and the Attentional Blink. In the experimental conditions of the present study we find no evidence of either facilitatory or inhibitory effects: recognition memory for pictures in RSVP supports the Total Time Hypothesis. The data are consistent with an Unequal-Variance Signal Detection Theory model of memory that assumes the average strength and the variance of the familiarity of pictures both increase with total study time. The main conclusion is that the growth of visual scene familiarity with temporal exposure and repetition is a stochastically independent process

Topics: BF
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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