The kinds of information that support novel associative object priming and how these differ from those that support item priming
We investigated how the information that supports novel associative and item object priming differs under identical study/test conditions. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants rated the meaningfulness of sentences linking two object pictures at study. At test, they performed either a size judgement or an associative recognition memory task on intact, recombined and novel picture (Experiment 1) or word (Experiment 2) associations. Associative priming was modulated by subjective meaningfulness of the encoded links, and depended on study/test perceptual overlap. In contrast, item priming was neither affected by the meaningfulness of the sentences nor by study/test changes in the stimulus presentation format. Associative priming and recognition were behaviourally dissociated, and associative recognition was probably too slow to have seriously contaminated associative priming. In Experiment 3, participants performed a perceptually oriented task during both experimental phases, and both associative and item priming were observed. These results suggest that associative priming depends on stored associative semantic and perceptual information when the test task requires flexible retrieval of associative information. Under the same conditions, item priming may only require activation of items' semantic properties. When both study and test tasks stress perceptual processing, retrieval of perceptual information is sufficient to support both kinds of priming.
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