How semantic processing affects recognition memory

Michael S. Humphreys, Yanqi Ryan Li, Jennifer S. Burt, Shayne Loft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Memory researchers acknowledge the importance of semantic processing in recognition and recall, but there is a significant disconnect from the literature that addresses how to conceptualize words. We use the lexical literature to ask more analytic questions about the effects of semantic processing on memory. A prospective memory task requiring the initiation of a semantic search that was imposed during an ongoing task had an effect on the delayed recognition of words from the ongoing task, and this effect was similar whether the ongoing task was lexical decision (Experiment1) or naming (Experiment2). This finding indicates that the effect on memory of initiating a semantic search is in addition to the effect of lexical access. Further, although an associate-search prospective memory task and a multi-target prospective memory task both enhanced delayed recognition, the pattern of hits and false alarms was different. This finding indicates that prospective memory difficulty is not responsible for the enhancement on the delayed recognition test.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104109
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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