Visual persistence and code selection in short-term memory for letters

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Conducted 4 experiments with a total of 157 undergraduates to examine temporal changes in visual and name codes and the relationship between them. The presence of multiple typefonts in the stimulus set did not eliminate convergence between the reaction time functions for the physical- and name-match (PM and NM, respectively) conditions in an NM task. Inclusion of a PM task, requiring Ss to retain form information, did not necessarily eliminate convergence in a primary, NM task. When the secondary task did reduce convergence, however, the results suggest that it did this through its effect on the NM function rather than on the PM function. Apart from difficulties with within-cluster typefont combinations, particularly at long interstimulus intervals (ISI), Ss generally retained and used reliable information about letter form over the ISI range (.5-.40 sec) used in the experiments. It is concluded that convergence results from a combination of (a) a nonoptional decrease in the accessibility of the visual code as a function of increasing ISI and (b) an optional increase in the accessibility of the name code. Under ISI conditions, at least, convergence cannot be attributed either to generation of a visual code of the alternative form of the target letter or to the absence of relevant form information. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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