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Encode a letter and get its location for free? Assessing incidental binding of verbal and spatial features

Delooze, Molly A., Langerock, Naomi, Macy, Robin, Vergauwe, Evie and Morey, Candice C. ORCID: 2022. Encode a letter and get its location for free? Assessing incidental binding of verbal and spatial features. Brain Sciences 12 (6) , 685. 10.3390/ brainsci12060685

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Previous studies have demonstrated that when presented with a display of spatially arranged letters, participants seem to remember the letters’ locations when letters are the focus of a recognition test, but do not remember letters’ identity when locations are tested. This strong binding asymmetry suggests that encoding location may be obligatory when remembering letters, which requires explanation within theories of working memory. We report two studies in which participants focused either on remembering letters or locations for a short interval. At test, positive probes were either intact letter–location combinations or recombinations of an observed letter and another previously occupied location. Incidental binding is observed when intact probes are recognized more accurately or faster than recombined probes. Here, however, we observed no evidence of incidental binding of location to letter in either experiment, neither under conditions where participants focused on one feature exclusively for a block, nor where the to-be-remembered feature was revealed prior to encoding with a changing pre-cue, nor where the to-be-remembered feature was retro-cued and therefore unknown during encoding. Our results call into question the robustness of a strong, consistent binding asymmetry. They suggest that while incidental location-to-letter binding may sometimes occur, it is not obligatory.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2076-3425
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 5 May 2022
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 11:14

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