Implicit Memory for Unfamiliar Objects Depends on Access to Structural Descriptions

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We investigated implicit memory for unfamiliar objects with a task in which subjects decided whether structurally possible and impossible line drawings could exist in three-dimensional space. In Experiment 1, significant priming effects on object decision performance were observed after encoding of global, three-dimensional object structure but not local, two-dimensional object features. Explicit memory did not differ significantly as a function of global vs. local study processing. In Experiments 2 and 3, elaborative encoding had different effects on object decision and recognition performance, thus providing evidence for functional dissociation between implicit and explicit memory. Stochastic independence between object decision and recognition performance was also observed. Results were consistent with the hypothesis that implicit memory, as indexed by priming on the object decision task, depends on encoding of and access to structural descriptions of objects.

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