Semantic interference effects: Automatic spreading activation or comparison processes
Bartha, Michael Christopher
Martin, Randi C.
Master of Arts
Previous research has provided evidence that semantic information significantly influences processing in short-term memory (Jensen, 1987; Shulman, 1970, 1972). This study examined semantically related and associated interference effects in identity probe recognition tasks with undergraduates, older subjects, and brain-damaged patients. Associative interference effects were presumed to result from automatic spreading activation in a word recognition system, and were expected to produce interactions with serial position. No interactions between interference effects and serial position were obtained. Modality of presentation had an influence on the size of the interference effects obtained, with auditory presentation decreasing the interference effect size. These results were interpreted as evidence that interference effects in probe recognition tasks are the result of a process of attribute or feature comparison (Anisfeld and Knapp, 1968). Results from the patient experiments were equivocal and suggest that the probe recognition task is not appropriate for use with brain-damaged patients.