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Memory for Items and Associations: Distinct Representations and Processes in Associative Recognition.
In two experiments, participants studied word pairs and later discriminated old (intact) word pairs from foils, including recombined word pairs and pairs including one or two previously unstudied words. Rather than making old/new memory judgments, they chose one of five responses: (1) Old-Old (original), (2) Old-Old (rearranged), (3) Old-New, (4) New-Old, (5) New-New. To tease apart the effects of item familiarity from those of associative strength, we varied both how many times a specific word-pair was repeated (1 or 5) and how many different word pairs were associated with a given word (1 or 5). Participants could discriminate associative information from item information such that they recognized which word of a foil was new, or whether both were new, as well as discriminating recombined studied words from original pairings. The error and latency data support the view that item and associative information are stored as distinct memory representations and make separate contributions at retrieval.