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Why do additional presentations help us identify a stimulus?

  • Bf Psychology


Nosofsky (1983) reported that additional stimulus presentations within a trial increase discriminability in absolute identification, suggesting that each presentation creates an independent stimulus representation, but it remains unclear whether exposure duration or the formation of independent representations improves discrimination in such conditions. Experiment 1 replicated Nosofsky’s result. Experiments 2 (masking the ISI between two presentations) and 3 (manipulating stimulus duration without changing number of presentations or overall trial duration) ruled out an explanation in terms of extended opportunities for stimulus sampling, from either a sensory buffer during additional ISIs or increased stimulus exposure, respectively. Experiment 4 (comparing two and three presentations, other factors controlled) provided some limited additional support for Nosofsky’s original claim that additional stimulus presentations can create either independent or duplicate representations. Experiments 5 and 6 (both manipulating ISI) demonstrated that a key factor in the additional stimulus presentation effect is the overall trial duration. We discuss the results in relation to models of absolute identification, their relative emphasis on stimulus sampling versus response selection, and the mechanisms by which duplicate representations could be created.

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