Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. B. Milliken
Every day we encounter a variety of objects in a complex sensory environment. Some objects are familiar, whereas other objects have never been encountered before or are novel within the current context. Response to a novel object typically requires analysis of current perceptual information of the object. By contrast, retrieving a memory for a prior event is often a useful 'shortcut' to response for a familiar stimulus. However, in some situations a past response is inappropriate for a current object, even if it is similar to an object encountered previously. Consequently, past experience may be a source of interference in response selection under some conditions. In these circumstances, relying on the analysis of current perceptual information of the object may be a more useful approach to response selection. It is proposed in this thesis that attention during the current encounter with a stimulus modulates the contribution that retrieval processes and analytic perceptual processes make to response selection. The priming method is often used to examine how prior experience influences current responding. To examine the role of attention in modulating response selection, different attentional manipulations were used in a series of priming experiments. The results of a word-naming experiment showed that the appearance of response benefits and costs for repeated stimuli was contingent on the presence or absence of a distracting stimulus in the second of two priming displays. Then, a series of experiments was conducted using a modified version of the procedure employed by Kahneman, Treisman and Gibbs (1992) to compare responses to identical and non-identical repetitions of stimuli (the object-specific preview effect). An object-specific preview benefit was eliminated both when a distractor was included in the second display and when the proportion of repeated trials was reduced below chance. Further, repetition costs emerged for repeated stimuli under the same conditions in which an object-specific preview benefit was not observed. Together, the findings are highly consistent with the proposal that attentional processing during the current encounter with a stimulus influences the contribution that retrieval makes to response selection.
Bleile, Karmen R., "The role of attention in the modulation of response selection: Attenuating object-specific benefits" (2000). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1791.