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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 1/2017

01-10-2015 | Original Article

In a context of time: the impact of delay and exposure time on the emergence of memory context effects

Auteurs: Ayala Bloch, Eli Vakil

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 1/2017

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Research on context-mediated facilitation of recognition memory distinguishes between the effects of reinstating the exact same context previously associated with a target and a context that is familiar but not directly associated with the target. As both effects are difficult to produce reliably in recognition experiments, attention has turned to measures that may explain inconsistencies, such as the extent to which instructions encourage association between targets and contexts. The aim of the current study was to examine the distinctive and interactive effects of three factors that may lead to variability in context effects (CEs), namely type of instructions given at learning, delay between learning and test, and exposure time for targets and contexts at learning. Using a comprehensive paradigm developed by Vakil and colleagues, with photographs of faces serving as target and context stimuli, both exposure time and delay were shown to be associated with the occurrence of CEs and appeared to interact with one another in determining the nature of these effects. Unlike several previous studies, false alarms did not increase when foils were presented with familiar contexts. Also unexpectedly, the instruction manipulation did not appear to strengthen target-context binding. It may instead have increased attention to contexts at the expense of targets, as suggested by the finding that direct memory for context improved under associative instruction conditions. Overall, the study demonstrates the importance of understanding and controlling various factors that may potentially influence the emergence of both reinstatement and familiarity-based CEs, among them exposure time and learning-to-test delay.


A 6-s exposure time/delayed learning-to-test interval/associative instructions group was not included in the study. We performed preliminary analyses of the data before running the experiment on the final participant group under these conditions and found that our instruction manipulation was unequivocally ineffective in producing any context effects. We therefore chose to omit this group from the design, on the grounds that the data from the two instruction conditions would be collapsed in our examination of the remaining independent variables (exposure time, learning-to-test delay, and context).


As previously noted (see footnote 1), a 6-s exposure time/delayed learning-to-test interval/associative instructions group was not included in the study, such that there were only seven experimental groups.

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In a context of time: the impact of delay and exposure time on the emergence of memory context effects
Ayala Bloch
Eli Vakil
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 1/2017
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772

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