Perceptual Fluency as a Cue for Recognition Judgments in Amnesia

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This study investigated the extent to which amnesic patients use fluency of perceptual identification as a cue for recognition. Perceptual fluency was measured by having participants gradually unmask words before making recognition judgments. In Experiment 1, familiarity was the only possible basis for recognition because no words had been presented in the study phase. In Experiment 2, recollection provided an alternative basis for recognition because words had appeared in the study phase. Amnesic patients were as likely as normal controls to use perceptual fluency as a cue for recognition in Experiment 1 but were more likely than controls to do so in Experiment 2. For both groups, perceptual fluency affected judgments for studied and unstudied items to the same extent in Experiment 2. These findings suggest that amnesic patients do use perceptual fluency cues, but reliance on perceptual fluency does not necessarily elevate recognition accuracy.

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