Implicit Memory for Possible and Impossible Objects: Constraints on the Construction of Structural Descriptions

Daniel L. Schacter, Lynn A. Cooper, Suzanne M. Delaney, Mary A. Peterson, Mindy Tharan

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Four experiments examined implicit memory or priming effects on an object decision task in which subjects decided whether structurally possible or impossible novel objects could exist in three-dimensional form. Results revealed equivalent levels of priming for possible objects after 1 vs. 4 5-s exposures to the same structural encoding task (Experiment 1) and when objects were studied with a single structural encoding task or 2 different structural encoding tasks (Experiment 3). Explicit memory, by contrast, was greatly affected by both manipulations. However, priming of possible objects was not observed when Ss were given only a single 1-s exposure to perform a structural encoding task (Experiment 2). No evidence for priming of impossible objects was observed in any of the 4 experiments. The data suggest that object decision priming depends on a presemantic structural description system that is distinct from episodic memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

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