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Familiarity for Associations? A Test of the Domain Dichotomy Theory

Harlow IM, MacKenzie G & Donaldson D (2010) Familiarity for Associations? A Test of the Domain Dichotomy Theory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36 (6), pp. 1381-1388.;

Episodic recognition memory is mediated by functionally separable retrieval processes, notably familiarity (a general sense of prior exposure) and recollection (the retrieval of contextual details), whose relative engagement depends partly on the nature of the information being retrieved. Currently, the specific contribution of familiarity to associative recognition memory (where retrieval of the relationships between pairs of stimuli is required) is not clearly understood. Here we test domain dichotomy theory, which predicts that familiarity should contribute more to associative memory when stimuli are similar (within-domain) than when they are distinct (between-domain). Participants studied stimulus pairs, and at test, discriminated intact from rearranged pairs. Stimuli were either within-domain (name-name or image-image pairs) or between-domain (name-image pairs). Across experiments we employed two different behavioural measures of familiarity, based on ROC curves and a Modified Remember-Know procedure. Both experiments provided evidence that familiarity can contribute to associative recognition; however familiarity was stronger for between-domain pairs - in direct contrast to the domain dichotomy prediction.

episodic memory; associative recognition; familiarity; recollection; unitization; Memory Recollection (Psychology); Memory Recognition (Psychology)

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition: Volume 36, Issue 6

Author(s)Harlow, Iain M; MacKenzie, Graham; Donaldson, David
FundersEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council/Medical Research Council and Scottish Executive
Publication date30/11/2010
Publication date online31/12/2010
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
Publisher URL
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