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Recall of Pictures of Common Objects - Effects of Fidelity and Familiarity on Hypermnesia

NCJ Number
D F Dinges; W G Whitehouse; M H Erdelyi; E C Orne; M T Orne
Date Published
12 pages
This study examines the effects of stimuli that induce varying levels of cognitive processing on hypermnesia, which is the progressive enhancement of recall with time and retrieval effort.
The study hypothesized that ambiguous pictures requiring significant cognitive analysis would be more supportive of hypermnesia than unambiguous pictures that would be immediately recognizable. Nine subjects viewed 60 slides of unambiguous pictures, and 10 subjects viewed 60 slides of ambiguous pictures. Each slide was exposed for 4 seconds, during which the subjects were instructed to name the object depicted. After the last slide was shown, subjects were asked to list the names of the objects depicted in the slides within 7 minutes. Subjects were instructed to draw a line after the last item they could recall with confidence and then guess at the rest of the items until 60 items were listed. The papers were collected, and the subjects were asked to think about the items for 2 minutes, after which a second recall test identical to the first was administered. This was followed by a second 'think' interval and a third recall test. The recall procedure produced hypermnesia for both groups, with no statistically reliable difference for the recall accuracy between groups viewing ambiguous and unambiguous pictures. There was, however, a difference in cumulative recall and net recall (hypermnesia), suggesting that depth of cognitive processing of stimuli affects the level of recall and forgetting that occurs over time but does not ultimately impact hypermnesia. 13 references.


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