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Precognitive priming and sequential effects in visual word recognition


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Garton, R 2010 , 'Precognitive priming and sequential effects in visual word recognition', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The proposition that psi is operative not as an anomaly but as a normative component of information processing was investigated, focusing on the normative operation of precognition. Distinct to prior paradigms of precognition research that measure exact identification of stimuli, it was considered most informative, for the proposition of psi’s normativeness, to investigate its operation as a context effect, and, specifically, as priming and sequential effects.
Evidence for psi’s operation as a priming effect was firstly examined, and a priming paradigm involving continuous lexical decision was deemed, on the basis of prior research, to be potentially informative. As to what information could be precognitively primed, the question of retrieval, under a precognition condition, of imaginal and ideational information was addressed, in Experiment 1, in the form of post-response orthographic and semantic priming. Together with observations of classical past-to-present priming, precognitive semantic priming was observed, as was precognitive orthographic priming involving nonwords, in the speed and, partially, the accuracy of lexical decisions. Discussion related the results to theories of visual word recognition as well as precognition.
Precognition as a sequential effect was then examined. Using data from a prior experiment in lexical decision that sensitised accuracy over speed as the relevant measure, a precognitive alternation effect was observed in the presence of a classical repetition effect; specifically, responses to words were more accurate when the prior stimulus was a word, and when the subsequent (“precognitive”) stimulus was a nonword, while responses to nonwords showed no reliable sequential effects. The possible role of sequential artefacts in randomly allocating targets and conditions was examined but found not to disconfirm the precognition hypothesis, while meriting further study. A third experiment sought to replicate this ostensibly precognitive alternation effect in lexical decision latency, while also manipulating nonword lexicality so as to identify a psychological basis for the effect that would conceptually, rather than statistically, preclude the operation of randomisation artefacts. The precognitive alternation effect was again observed – but (again) only in error-rate, and only on word trials. No nonword lexicality effect, and no artefacts of randomisation, appeared to modulate this effect. In the classical direction of sequences, word and nonword repetition effects were observed, modulated by nonword lexicality. These findings again merited discussion in relation to theories of both visual word recognition and precognition.
General discussion further concerned the possible role of precognition in visual word recognition, and the informativeness of context effects paradigms of psi research in addressing such possibilities.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Garton, R
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