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01-09-2018 | Original Article

Distractor-based retrieval in action control: the influence of encoding specificity

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research
Auteurs:
Ruth Laub, Christian Frings

Abstract

If a target stimulus is presented together with a response irrelevant distractor stimulus, both stimuli can be encoded together with the response in an event file [see Hommel (Trends Cogn Sci 8:494–500, 2004)]. The repetition of the distractor can retrieve the encoded response. This kind of distractor-based retrieval is an important mechanism in action control. In the present experiment, we investigate whether and how distractor-based retrieval of event files is influenced by encoding specificity—a retrieval principle that has been suggested to affect retrieval in short-term and long-term memory. Using a prime–probe design, the number of identical distractors on each display was varied. The results showed that the distractor-based retrieval process is modulated by encoding specificity, in that only high (low) number of distractors retrieves former event files with high (low) number of distractors. Taken together, distractor-based retrieval in action control follows principles known from short-term memory and long-term memory retrieval.

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