Selective attention and recognition: effects of congruency on episodic learning
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Recent research on cognitive control has focused on the learning consequences of high selective attention demands in selective attention tasks (e.g., Botvinick, Cognit Affect Behav Neurosci 7(4):356-366, 2007; Verguts and Notebaert, Psychol Rev 115(2):518-525, 2008). The current study extends these ideas by examining the influence of selective attention demands on remembering. In Experiment 1, participants read aloud the red word in a pair of red and green spatially interleaved words. Half of the items were congruent (the interleaved words had the same identity), and the other half were incongruent (the interleaved words had different identities). Following the naming phase, participants completed a surprise recognition memory test. In this test phase, recognition memory was better for incongruent than for congruent items. In Experiment 2, context was only partially reinstated at test, and again recognition memory was better for incongruent than for congruent items. In Experiment 3, all of the items contained two different words, but in one condition the words were presented close together and interleaved, while in the other condition the two words were spatially separated. Recognition memory was better for the interleaved than for the separated items. This result rules out an interpretation of the congruency effects on recognition in Experiments 1 and 2 that hinges on stronger relational encoding for items that have two different words. Together, the results support the view that selective attention demands for incongruent items lead to encoding that improves recognition.
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