Research Topic

The role of the distinctions between identification/production and perceptual/conceptual processes in implicit memory: Findings from cognitive psychology, neuroscience and neuropsychology

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The distinction between identification and production processes posits that the amount of attentional resources required by implicit memory tasks during the encoding phase should vary as a function of the number of solutions admitted by retrieval cues (Gabrieli, Vaidya, Stone, Francis, Thompson-Schill, ...

The distinction between identification and production processes posits that the amount of attentional resources required by implicit memory tasks during the encoding phase should vary as a function of the number of solutions admitted by retrieval cues (Gabrieli, Vaidya, Stone, Francis, Thompson-Schill, Fleischman, Tinklenberg, Yesavage, & Wilson, 1999). According to this framework, priming in low-competition tasks, in which each retrieval cue is compatible with only one correct response (e.g., lexical decision), is expected to require fewer encoding-phase attentional resources than priming in high-competition tasks, in which each retrieval cue is compatible with multiple plausible solutions (e.g., word-stem completion).


The identification and production framework has relevant theoretical implications. First, it challenges the assumptions of the Transfer-Appropriate-Processing framework (Morris, Bransford & Franks, 1977), which are at the heart of the well-known dissociation between memory tasks based on data-driven (perceptual) and conceptually-driven processes (Mulligan, 1996; Spataro, Cestari, & Rossi-Arnaud, 2011). Moreover, the two accounts lead to very different expectations with respect to the pattern of priming deficits to be found in healthy older adults (Geraci, 2006; Prull, 2004), and clinical populations such as patients with Alzheimer’s disease (Fleischman, Monti, Dwornik, Moro, Bennett, & Gabrieli, 2001) or schizophrenia (Schwartz, Rosse, & Deutsch, 1993; Soler, Ruiz, Vargas, Dasí, & Fuentes, 2011).


This Research Topic is intended to draw together the latest experimental, neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies dealing with the role of perceptual/conceptual vs identification/production processes in implicit and explicit memory. Our aims are: a) to provide an updated overview about the validity of these two distinctions; b) to understand the impact of response competition in implicit and explicit memory tasks; c) to stimulate the discussion about comprehensive theoretical frameworks; and c) to highlight the neural underpinnings of perceptual/conceptual and identification/production priming. We welcome different types of contributions, including original research articles, reviews, brief commentaries, and meta-analyses. Studies on clinical populations or using ERPs and neuroimaging techniques are particularly welcomed.


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