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Abstraction and perceptual individuation in primed word identification are modulated by distortion and repetition: A dissociation

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One experiment investigated the effects of distortion and multiple prime repetition (super-repetition) on repetition priming using divided-visual-field word identification at test and mixed-case words (e.g., goAT). The experiment measured form-specificity (the effect of matching lettercase at study and test) for two non-conceptual study tasks. For an ideal typeface, super-repetition increased form-independent priming leaving form-specificity constant. The opposite pattern was found for a distorted typeface; super-repetition increased form-specificity, leaving form-independent priming constant. These priming effects did not depend on the study task or test hemifield for either typeface. An additional finding was that only the ideal typeface showed the usual advantage of right hemifield presentation. These results demonstrate that super-repetition produced abstraction for the ideal typeface and perceptual individuation for the distorted typeface; abstraction and perceptual individuation dissociated. We suggest that there is a fundamental duality between perceptual individuation and abstraction consistent with Tulving's (1984) distinction between episodic and semantic memory. This could reflect a duality of system or process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Oxford, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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