Congruency effects on recognition memory: A context effect.
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Two recent studies have reported that incongruent selective attention items are better remembered than congruent items on a surprise recognition memory test. These findings suggest that an increased need for cognitive control may trigger encoding mechanisms at the time of study that result in better recognition of those items at test, a form of the desirable difficulty effect. The experiments in this study demonstrate that this effect can depend on whether differences in selective attention difficulty are blocked or intermixed at the time of encoding. These results suggest that additional encoding time itself does not invariably result in better recognition for more difficult selective attention items. Instead, the dependence of recognition memory on encoding difficulty appears to reflect a context-sensitive control response to encoding difficulty.
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