Stimulus-specific learning: disrupting the bow effect in absolute identification

Dodds, Pennie; Donkin, Christopher; Brown, Scott; Heathcote, Andrew; Marley, A.
August 2011
Attention, Perception & Psychophysics;Aug2011, Vol. 73 Issue 6, p1977
Academic Journal
The bow effect is ubiquitous in standard absolute identification experiments; stimuli at the center of the stimulus-set range elicit slower and less accurate responses than do others. This effect has motivated various theoretical accounts of performance, often involving the idea that end-of-range stimuli have privileged roles. Two other phenomena (practice effects and improved performance for frequently-presented stimuli) have an important but less explored consequence for the bow effect: Standard within-subjects manipulations of set size could disrupt the bow effect. We found this disruption for stimulus types that support practice effects (line length and tone frequency), suggesting that the bow effect is more fragile than has been thought. Our results also have implications for theoretical accounts of absolute identification, which currently do not include mechanisms for practice effects, and provide results consistent with those in the literature on stimulus-specific learning.


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