Incidental text priming without reinstatement of context, the role of data-driven processes in implicit memory

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Lee, Michael D.
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Implicit memory for individual words is often eliminated when the words are studied in text. These context effects are thought to reflect the fact that context reduces data-driven processing at study and inhibits transfer to an implicit, data-driven task (e.g., word-fragment completion), which has led to the argument that reinstatement of context at test is critical for priming to occur. Some text priming procedures, however, have shown that words read in text can be primed on a word fragment completion test without reinsta ement. These results led to the hypothesis that the promotion of perceptual processing at study enables text-to-word level priming. One criticism of these studies is that priming was obtained only because the context involved relatively short and unrelated passages or texts. In Experiment 1, participants read long and more meaningful and detailed texts under conditions that either promoted data-driven processing or conceptual processing, followed by a word fragment completion task consisting of words selected from those texts. Proofreading text (data-driven processing) led words assimilated into larger meaning units to act as single transfer units, whereas this transfer did not occur under normal reading conditions (conceptual processing). Experiment 2 replicated the results of Experiment 1, and tested whether proofread participants were extracting meaning from the text. Participants wrote brief post-experimental summaries of the texts to compare the degree of meaning extracted and remembered under the two orienting tasks. As expected, participants who read the texts under data-driven conditions showed better priming on an implicit memory task, and participants who read the texts under conceptually-driven conditions showed superior performance on the explicit, summarizing task. This suggested a trade-off between perceptual and conceptual processing and a dissociation between the two types of memory tasks as a function of orientation. These findings are discussed within a transfer-appropriate processing view of implicit memory.