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Perceptual match effects in direct tests of memory: the role of contextual fan.
The aim of the present study was to determine whether physical attributes of a memory representation would affect explicit memory performance and, if so, what type of factors would affect the size of a perceptual match effect. Subjects studied words in different, uncommon fonts and were later asked whether the word had been studied earlier. Words could be re-presented in the original font, a font studied with another word, or a font not seen earlier. In two additional experiments, we varied the numbers of words studied in the same unusual font (1 vs. 12 words per font). Recognition memory for the words was better if the test and study fonts matched, and this effect was larger for fonts not shared with other words. Moreover, old judgments were most likely to be classified as remember responses when words were re-presented in the same font when it had not been studied with other words. Although we found a significant effect of levels of processing, this factor did not interact with whether the font matched between study and test. These results are consistent with the predictions of the source of activation confusion model of memory and suggest that perceptual information operates according to the same memory principles as conceptual information.