Event-related potential evidence for multiple causes of the revelation effect☆

Consciousness and Cognition 14 (2):327-350 (2005)
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Asking people to discover the identity of a recognition test probe immediately before making a recognition judgment increases the probability of an old judgment. To inform theories of this “revelation effect,” event-related potentials were recorded for revealed and intact test items across two experiments. In Experiment 1, we used a revelation effect paradigm where half of the test probes were presented as anagrams and the other items were presented intact. The pattern of ERP results from this experiment suggested that revealing an item decreases initial familiarity levels and caused the revealed items to elicit similar levels of activity. In Experiment 2, half of the probes were preceded by an addition task . The pattern of ERP effects in this study were distinct from those observed in Experiment 1. More specifically, revealed item ERPs were more negative than intact ERPs at frontal electrodes and more positive at parietal electrodes early in the interval. Later in the epoch, revealed item ERPs were more negative than intact items. These data suggest that related tasks decrease familiarity and alter the signal-to-noise ratio of old and new items, whereas unrelated tasks affect processing in a different way that also results in the revelation effect. The implications for current theories of the revelation effect are discussed



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