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Date of Award

7-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. Bruce Milliken

Abstract

The research reported in this thesis focuses on the cognitive processes that contribute to the repetition effect in a forced-choice discrimination task. The five experiments reported in the first manuscript suggest that the repetition effect is determined by two separate memorial influences. One influence is specific to the link between perception and action while the other influence reflects the prior action independent of the perceptual stimulus to which that action was made. The critical observation is that these two influences, specific and nonspecific, can work in concert or in opposition to modulate the repetition effect. The four experiments reported in the second manuscript focus on how these two processes, specific and nonspecific, change with age. There are two critical findings reported in this second manuscript: (1) the relative contribution of these two influences changes with age and (2) manipulating the testing time in young adults appears to be an excellent model for the study of aging. A further contribution of this thesis is that it illustrates the danger in assuming that repetition effects are process pure cognitive measures. Instead, it may be more appropriate for cognitive psychologists to focus on analytic techniques that allow the influence of separate processes on performance to be studied.

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