The Effects of Immediate Stimulus Repetition on Reaction Time and Event-Related Potentials in Tasks of Different Complexity

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The effect of immediate stimulus repetition was examined in lexical decision, face recognition, letter search, face/nonface discrimination, and word/number discrimination tasks using reaction time (RT), accuracy, and event-related brain potential (ERP) measures. Repetition facilitated performance in all tasks and for all stimulus types. However, ERPs were strongly affected by repetition only in lexical decision, face recognition, and letter search, when relatively long stimulus analysis and decision making processes were required. The ERP repetition effect consisted of a significant increase in P300 amplitude and a shortening of its latency. Repetition also resulted in the attenuation of a negative component that was tentatively identified as N400. These results suggest that immediate repetition facilitates stimulus identification and eliminates the need for stimulus analysis processes including access to semantic memory while making categorical decisions. While both factors affected RT, ERPs were modulated primarily by the elimination of the need to access to semantic memory and by the consequent speeding of categorical decision processes.

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