The Acquisition of Task-Specific Productions and Modification of Declarative Representations in Spatial-Precuing Tasks


    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

SUMMARYThe stimulus-response translation stage of human information processing plays a mediating role of relating stimuli to assigned responses. The translation stage has been implicated as the locus of a pattern of differential precuing benefits obtained in spatial-choice tasks (Proctor & Reeve, 1986; Reeve & Proctor, 1985): When pairs of finger responses from the middle and index fingers of each hand are precued, the two leftmost and two rightmost responses show the greatest benefit. This pattern of differential benefits, which occurs regardless of whether the hand placement is adjacent or overlapped, has been attributed to spatially coded representations of the stimulus and response sets in the translation stage.Experiment 1 evaluated whether the mediating role of the translation stage changes with practice. All precued pairs of responses showed equivalent benefits in the last of three sessions. This result indicates that the spatial representations used initially to translate between stimuli and responses have been altered to be more efficient or have been replaced by productions that directly specify fingers.Experiment 2 used a fourth session in which subjects were transferred from the overlapped hand placement to the adjacent placement, or vice versa. For subjects in the former condition, the pattern of differential precuing benefits reappeared in the transfer session. This lack of transfer is consistent with the hypothesis that task-specific productions develop with practice that directly relate stimuli to fingers.For subjects who practiced with the adjacent placement and switched to the overlapped placement, only a nonsignificant tendency existed for the pattern of differential precuing benefits to reappear. This failure of the pattern to reappear could indicate that spatial representations continue to be used to translate between stimuli and responses. Alternatively, as occurs with the overlapped placement, task-specific productions could be acquired that relate stimuli to fingers. If so, the failure of the pattern of differential precuing benefits to reappear would reflect a modification in the representations that are used for translation in the transfer session. Specifically, if subjects were coding the stimulus and response sets on the basis of the distinction between the two hands, as well as the spatial distinction, the differential benefits would be minimized because hand coding should benefit different responses from those benefitted by spatial coding.These alternative explanations were evaluated in Experiment 3 by having subjects who practiced with the adjacent placement switch to a placement in which the hands were crossed completely. The importance of the crossed-hands placement is that the distinction between the hands is consistent with the left—right spatial distinction; thus, hand coding cannot complement spatial coding. In contrast to the results obtained in Experiment 2 when subjects switched to the overlapped placement, the pattern of differential precuing benefits was reinstated completely in Experiment 3 when subjects switched to the crossed-hands placement.Thus, the primary findings are that (a) task-specific productions develop with practice that relate stimuli directly to specific fingers, and (b) declarative knowledge is acquired that can lead to the use of modified representations when translation subsequently is required in a transfer session. The results are consistent with the view that the mediating role of the translation stage decreases with practice and inconsistent with the view that the role does not change or diminish.

    loading  Loading Related Articles