Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 80, Issue 8, pp 1918–1931 | Cite as

Contextual modulation of prime response retrieval processes: Evidence from auditory negative priming

  • Susanne MayrEmail author
  • Malte Möller
  • Axel Buchner


Contextual similarity between learning and test phase has been shown to be beneficial for memory retrieval. Negative priming is known to be caused by multiple processes; one of which is episodic retrieval. Therefore, the contextual similarity of prime and probe presentations should influence the size of the negative priming effect. This has been shown for the visual modality. In Experiment 1, an auditory four-alternative forced choice reaction time task was used to test the influence of prime-probe contextual similarity on negative priming and the processes underlying the modulation by context. The negative priming effect was larger when the auditory context was repeated than when it was changed from prime to probe. The modulation by context was exclusively caused by an increase in prime response retrieval errors in ignored repetition trials with context repetition, whereas repeating only the context but not the prime distractor did not lead to an increase in prime response retrieval. This exact pattern of results was replicated in Experiment 2. The findings suggest that contextual information is integrated with prime distractor and response information. Retrieval of the previous episode, including prime distractor, prime response, and context (event file), can be triggered when the former prime distractor is repeated, whereas a context cue alone does not retrieve the event file. This suggests an event file structure that is more complicated than its usually assumed binary structure.


Attention and memory Negative priming Audition 


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018
corrected publication August/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology and Human-Machine InteractionUniversität PassauPassauGermany
  2. 2.Heinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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