Dynamics of Activation in Long-Term Memory: The Retrieval of Verbal, Pictorial, Spatial, and Color Information

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Abstract

Paivio's (1986) dual code theory was tested in 5 experiments with a new paradigm for the FAN effect that enforced genuine memory recall. Subjects had to learn associations between concepts and mediators. The FAN of the concepts in relation to the mediators was varied systematically. Response times (RT) were measured while subjects had to decide whether 2 concepts were linked to each other or not by a common mediator. In Experiment 1 the concepts and mediators were words, whereas in the other experiments the concepts were line drawings. Colors served as mediators in Experiment 2 and spatial locations served as mediators in Experiments 3, 4, and 5. All of the experiments were equivalent with respect to the FAN, the learning procedure, and the retrieval test. In all of the experiments, RT proved to be a linear function of the FAN. These results suggested that the same dynamics hold for all types of information stored in long-term memory.

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